If you are a Netflix user you probably know that regular VPN doesn’t work if you want to watch content from another county. This is because Netflix has “blocked” all known none-home IP addresses that are typically used by most VPNs. This has led to a rise in so-called specialist VPNs and SmartDNS. These are service providers who specialise in providing home-based IPs so you can unblock content.
Now it seems Netflix is going after them too. Several users on Reddit started complaining that they were no longer able to access US and UK content on Netflix using their various favourite SmartDNS and specialist VPN providers. That in itself is not unusual these guys always play a cat and mouse game with Netflix where they find new IP addresses and Netflix blocks them and so on. However, the sheer number of people who use various service providers and confirmation from some service providers themselves seem to suggest that something big is afoot.
It used to be easy to know if Netflix was blocking your VPN connection. They would display a giant error message telling you they had caught you in their VPN/SmartDNS dragnet. You would get a pop up telling you to turn off your VPN/SmartDNS if you wanted to continue watching stuff.
These days things are different. The only way to know if you are being blocked is if you are only getting Netflix Originals and nothing else. The thing is there are a lot of Netflix Originals out there unless you are an avid watcher you won’t even know that you are watching a Netflix Original. It’s a subtle and soft way of blocking from Netflix. This means you have to be on alert and a bit knowledgeable to realise that you are being blocked.
The problem for Netflix is there is IPV6 which is rising in prominence and will make their blocking exercise a nightmare. Most VPN and SmartDNS providers rely on it. While IPV4 has fewer addresses IPV6 has a lot of them and they are cheap. All a SmartDNS provider has to do is get ahold of a new homeblock and then move on to another block and so on.
Another problem for Netflix is that blocking home IP blocks inadvertently affects normal home users. This is because most IP addresses and IPV6 blocks are issued dynamically for home users. Just because an IP address block was used to unblock content today doesn’t mean that tomorrow it’s being used the same way. It might now be in the hands of a normal home user again.
Already this is happening. Several users have started complaining about these blocks as they are getting only Netflix Originals when they try to play content even though they are bona fide American residents using their home connections. More reports like this are likely to put a chill on Netflix’s blocking antics.
Meanwhile specialists VPN and SmartDNS live another day
Just like the pirate sites which hop from one domain to another and one server to another specialist VPN providers and SmartDNS providers are pretty resilient. This is how they make their money and they are not just going to give up. Already most seem to have fixed the problem and found solutions around the current round of blocks.
Like Tom and Jerry who have been chasing each other for decades. The game goes on.