#CyberFLASH: Netflix border-hopping crackdown hurts VPN users seeking privacy, advocacy group says

529957915_216017972-e1401991064713A Canadian internet advocacy group is fighting back against Netflix’s recent crackdown on cross-border watchers.

Vancouver-based Open Media argues the clampdown unfairly targets people who value their privacy online.

In mid-January, Netflix began cracking down on customers hopping virtual borders to watch shows and films restricted to other countries, especially in the U.S., which offers a rich content library.

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Netflix’s plan of attack was to block access to anyone using a VPN or virtual private network, software that can be used to disguise one’s physical location.

Open Media claims the move unjustly punishes people who use VPNs not to border hop but to protect their identity online for privacy reasons.

The organization has posted an online petition protesting the VPN crackdown and has already collected close to 45,000 signatures.

And today it’s sending a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, chastising the company for targeting VPN users. It’s also demanding a meeting to discuss better ways to tackle the thorny issue of regionally licensed content.

“You just haven’t been treating us well,” states the letter.

‘We’re not insignificant’

“We love Netflix but we don’t think that they need to be undercutting our privacy in order for us to access it,” says Open Media’s Laura Tribe, who penned the letter to Netflix on behalf of her organization.

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