[tor-relays] Netflix overblocking non-exit Tor relays

Gero Kuehn gero.kuehn at gkware.com
Fri Feb 26 23:42:38 UTC 2016

tl;dr: Even paying customers sharing IPs with non-exit Tor relays are now
blocked from accessing Netflix

Hello everyone !

After two very fruitless attempts to get the issue silently resolved through
proper Netflix support channels, the time has come to make this public. As
some of you have probably already read in the news, Netflix recently
announced a crackdown on what they call "VPN Pirates" and what I call
"paying customers using the same benefits of globalization that global
companies like Netflix (ab)use for their taxes".

They have now obviously changed their strategy regarding the Tor network. I
am operating (among others) a middle-relay on a German residential fixed-ip
VDSL-50 line (dc6jgk1/486740353B905AA4731F82C0B4CC25821A62C6E3) behind a
NAT. Until 2 days ago, none of the devices sharing the same external IP
address had any problem connecting to Netflix and there never was a Tor exit
relay on that IP as far as I can tell. It is also obviously not possible for
users of the Tor network to connect to Netflix through middle relays. As a
consequence they should not be classifying such IP addresses as VPNs/Proxies
and they should not be blocking them. This has been escalated and explained
twice to "technical supervisors" in their callcenters. They did however not
leave the impression that they a) care or b) intend to fix this at some
point by parsing the Tor network information properly instead of using
whatever cheap&wrong hack they use now.

The official response from Netflix is that you now need to make a choice
between operating that Tor relay (of any type) and the ability to watch
Netflix. They also strictly refuse to refund any remaining credit in the
customer account.

My personal choice with regards to that blackmailing is as clear my next
steps (conditional cancellation, 14 day deadline for refund and a legal
challenge of their German AGB with regards to this issue). I am allergic to
being blackmailed like that and being called a pirate by a service I
legitimately paid for.

For those of you who just would like to contribute to the Tor network
without having trouble like that, please do not let this nonsense stop you.
A more diversified Tor network is a more healthy network and I would really
like to see more normal users operating tor relays operating in as many
different locations as possible - including DSL lines "that are there
anyways". If you do not want to be put into a position where you have to
choose between your contribution to the network and some legal and paid-for
entertainment, you might want to operate only a bridge until the issue has
been resolved. If you already have the same problem, make it as expensive
for Netflix as possible and spread the word about why this block (and
geoblocking in general) is wrong. Thanks !

Kind regards,

  Gero / dc6jgk

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