Sony wanted Netflix to crack down on VPN users

It’s great using Netflix, but a lot of people aren’t quite content with just watching what’s available in their home country. Those people find ways around Netflix’s location locks by using a VPN to trick the site into thinking they’re in a country that they’re not. Sony was not, and probably still isn’t, happy about this.

According to Ars Technica, the recent hack of Sony Pictures contained emails from November 2013 revealing that the studio isn’t happy with Netflix’s current geofiltering systems, referring to it as ‘semi sanctioned privacy’. The studio asked the streaming service to implement stricter controls to prevent users accessing content from countries where Netflix doesn’t have relevant streaming rights.

Netflix was apparently resistant to stricter controls, stating that it would punish legitimate subscribers. Netflix itself wanted to make sure that customers had a number of different payment options, and since services like PayPal make it very difficult to determine someone’s geographic location efforts to remove it as a payment option would prove to be an obstacle for people who aren’t spoofing their IP address.

Netflix apparently admitted that there was a problem with people using VPN services to access overseas content, but it preferred to err on the side of caution. In any case, implementing stricter features would be likely to make much difference anyway. Location spoofing VPN services are everywhere, and even if stricter protocols were put into place people would likely find easy ways to get around those as well.

In any case, these discussions took place over a year ago, and since things haven’t changed in that time it’s unlikely they will anytime soon. Not until someone else sides with Sony and starts pressuring Netflix anyway.

Tom Pritchard