No Chill: Netflix Will Stop Canadians From Accessing its U.S. Service in the Next Few Weeks

You weren’t fooling anyone – Netflix has known all along about your not-so-secret scheme to access its U.S. programming through proxy servers and VPNs.

What’s concerning is that they’re going to put an end to it in the coming weeks.

“Those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are,” Netflix wrote on its blog, promising to develop a way to block unblocking services. “We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies,” which, yeah, obviously.

It could, however, significantly dent the subscriber base outside the U.S. that’s only interested in the full-service experience instead of a watered down geo-specific offering. It’s estimated that over a third of English-speaking Canadian Netflix users subscribe to the U.S. version, and reaction to the news suggests many are willing to jump ship when the new measure kicks in.

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It’s likely that Netflix isn’t taking action to protect its own interest – the company earns its subscription revenue either way – but rather because legal pressure following back-to-back copyright reforms in Canada have made it more or less inevitable that Canadians will have to settle for border-defined content. A change in copyright law enacted by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year made access to U.S. Netflix kind of illegal, while the Trudeau government is considering a ban on VPN and proxy services altogether.

Netflix’s statement yesterday did offer a glimmer of hope, however: “If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in.”

While they are “making progress in licensing content across the world,” Netflix admits there’s “a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.”

2016 could be the year we see ‘Shomi and chill’.