For many people the internet has become a necessity for banking, employment, shopping online and for entertainment. Our lives are now connected to smart devices that are linked to the World-Wide-Web.
Living abroad - the internet is a way for me to feel connected to my home Country, America. I rely mostly on my VPN (Virtual Proxy Network) to access online programs in the US. It gives me the feeling as if I never left home and for many other foreigners in China a VPN gives them the ability to access American news programs and entertainment sites.
A VPN also allows internet users to get around China’s online censorship by making their computer appear as if it is accessing the online content in a different country. The internet user then has the freedom to access news programs and entertainment sites as if they were in their home country without the hassle of the content being blocked.
One site I enjoyed accessing was Netflix I was paying a monthly subscription to get unlimited access to their site. But recently Netflix has blocked VPN users from viewing their online programs. Users like myself and users from other corners of the globe were happy to pay Netflix for their service.
( If you are a paying customer you should have the same access as other paying customers regardless of accessing the site through a VPN service provider. People like me need to use proxies and VPNs to gain access to the content that is being blocked in the country where we reside. )
Netflix and (especially) its partners were never happy with the VPN users viewing their programs from outside the US, but there wasn’t much of a serious effort to combat the issue. An online petition from Open Media telling Netflix to “stand up to Big Media bullies” has already received nearly 38,000 signatures but Netflix is refusing to change its policy. Surveys have been done and the surveys show that users may resort to piracy if they can’t access the content through legitimate means.
Many VPN users are affected by these recent access restrictions and VPN providers are receiving hundreds of complains from users on a daily bases. Many VPN users are complaining to their service providers by mistakenly thinking their VPNs are no longer working. The main complaint being made is that the VPN users are paying for the services both to the VPN service provider and to Netflix. This is forcing many VPN providers to find technical solutions to bypass both China’s restrictions and the restrictions being imposed by Netflix.
One main argument is that VPNs aren’t just used to spoof a computer’s address to make the computer look as though it is in a different country. The VPN technology also allow for increased security, which is significant since Netflix doesn’t use a form of encryption that is used to keep connections safe.
Netflix states that its ultimate aim is to have all content licensed across the world, so that there will be no need to pretend to be in another location to access their content. But in the meantime I canceled my monthly subscription to Netflix since I can no longer have access to their programs. That seems to be the only logical conclusion for the time being.
- Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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- Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link: