The BBC is stopping people from outside the UK from watching iPlayer using a VPN

Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock HolmesBBCBenedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes in a modern adaptation by the BBC.

The BBC is cracking down on viewers from outside the UK using a virtual personal network (VPN) to watch iPlayer, The Register reports.

A VPN fools the website into thinking that a user is accessing it from the UK by masking their IP address and changing it to a UK-based one. According to a BBC spokesperson, this contravenes the iPlayer terms of use. “We regularly make updates to our technology to help prevent access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, which breaks our terms of use.”

The move by the BBC comes as it prepares to launch a subscription service in the US next year that would allow for streaming of all programming. Simultaneously offering the programmes for free undercuts the potential market.

According to The Register, the BBC is blocking VPNs by IP en masse but a user with a private network could still potentially access shows from abroad. Major VPNs, such as Torguard, are not happy about this. “[The] BBC is utilising what [we] call a ‘nuke’ approach. People trying to access the service outside of the UK are now receiving this message: ‘BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only,'” Torguard said in a statement.

Ernesto Van der Sar, editor-in-chief of TorrentFreak, said: “The BBC is taking measures against the unauthorised use of its iPlayer service by actively blocking UK VPN services. The measures aim to prevent foreigners from accessing iPlayer without permission, but they’re also blocking many legitimate UK citizens from surfing the Internet securely.”

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