Netflix exec: company hasn’t changed policy on blocking VPN users

Netflix isn’t cracking down on foreign users utilizing VPNs to access the company’s streaming service, or at least not more than it has always done, according to Netflix’s Chief  Product Officer Neil Hunt. “We haven’t changed our VPN policy at all,” said Hunt during a CES press briefing in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Hunt’s remarks followed reports that Netflix started to crack down on VPN users following requests of movie studios. Users in countries where [company]Netflix[/company] hasn’t officially launched yet have long used VPNs to bypass geo-blocking mechanisms that would prevent them from accessing Netflix’s streaming service by pretending that their computer resided in the U.S..

Recently, an increased number of VPN users complained online that they haven’t been able to access Netflix anymore, but Hunt said Tuesday that this has nothing to do with any stricter blocking rules. Instead, Netflix Android mobile app is now querying Google’s DNS service if a user’s default DNS service times out. That means that if a VPN service doesn’t return a DNS request in time, apps automatically get the local DNS information from Google, leading to users being locked out if they’re not in a Netflix market.

Hunt added that Netflix has long used “the same VPN block list that everyone else uses,” and that it can only do so much to prevent users from accessing the service from abroad.

This post was updated at 5:28pm to clarify that Netflix only queries Google DNS with its new mobile Android app.


Turns out not that many people use Popcorn Time, after all

BitTorrent-based video streaming app Popcorn Time may be the media darling of the moment, but it doesn’t account for a whole lot of P2P traffic — at least not yet. Popcorn Time usage makes up for  less than 1 percent of torrent downloads in March, according to Variety, which tapped German P2P analytics company Excipio for the data. Popcorn Time offers users the ability to stream videos directly as opposed to having to download them first to their hard drives. The app first surfaced in early March, got briefly shut down by its own developers soon after, and resurfaced only days later on different servers.