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Netflix starts crackdown on VPN switchers -- Australian users locked out of US content

The series narcos on Netflix. Supplied

Just a week ago, Netflix announced it would start cracking down on people using proxy services to access content “locked” in their country.

It looks like the global streaming giant is now following through, with some Australian users finding they are confined to local content.

Melbourne-based service uFlix, one of many services that allows subscribers to switch their IP address so that it looks like it’s based in another country, has reported some of its users are being blocked from accessing the US library.

In a short blog post, uFlix reported that some customers logging into the US library – which is far larger than the Australian catalogue – were seeing the message: “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”

Netflix subscriptions have exploded in Australia over the past year, with the service already present in more than a million homes giving it a total audience of more than 2.6 million nationwide, according to Roy Morgan.

IP switching services like uFlix which charge a monthly fee are a popular way for Netflix users worldwide to allow subscribers to watch content from other countries, vastly expanding the available catalogue for a small price.

However, Netflix often does not own the rights to deliver the content to all of its markets. It has been testing technology that would allow it to resolve the “library-shopping” challenge for more than a year.

UFlix said the problem appeared to affect only a small number of users so far and that it was working on a fix.

“Some users are starting to have issues with Netflix blocking non-Australian content when going through uFlix,” the company wrote on its website “Though it is only affecting a few users at the moment, we expect this number to grow. We are working on a solution to get around these new measures and apologise for the inconvenience to those who are currently only getting Australian Netflix.”

Netflix CPO Neil Hunt recently told Business Insider that historically the company hadn’t been good at tracking or stopping these types of users. David Fullager, who heads content delivery, wrote on the company’s blog last week that “in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.”

Fullager also said the change would only affect those trying to fool the system, and that Netflix’s ultimate goal was to have all content available everywhere.

The company plans to spend $US5 billion on content this year.

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