Open Media argues the clampdown unfairly targets people who value their privacy online.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is being asked to reverse his company’s crackdown on privacy-conscious VPN users and find a better way of enforcing its contractual obligations to geographic content restrictions. In a letter backed up by an almost 45,000-strong petition, digital rights group OpenMedia asks Hastings to lift its blockade of VPN users, and to meet to discuss how to “position Netflix as a privacy-conscious leader in the field.”
On a recent earnings call, Hastings described VPN users as a “very small but quite vocal minority.” In response, OpenMedia’s letter points out that VPNs are an essential, user-friendly tool needed to protect Internet users’ privacy in an age of ubiquitous mass surveillance, hacking, and censorship.
“Our message to Reed Hastings is clear: nobody should have to choose between Netflix and privacy,” said OpenMedia’s Digital Rights Specialist Laura Tribe. “Blocking every VPN user from accessing their service is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We’re asking Netflix to meet with us so we can find a better way forward that actually safeguards the privacy of millions of customers, in a post-Snowden world.”
According to Global News, a recent survey found that 2 in 3 VPN users cite reasons other than Netflix as their primary reason for using a VPN. 84% also said they’d be more likely to pirate content as a result of the new restrictions.