Liberal Government May Block VPN Use to Access U.S. Netflix


Ministerial briefing documents released by the government identify three controversial issues that need to be sorted out: among them, we find the use of VPNs (virtual private networks) for copyright-infringing purposes, accessing US Netflix, and website blocking (via The Star).

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You may already use a VPN: it is used in corporate environments for secure communications, but it is also used by a number of Internet users to protect their online privacy. Many Canadians are using VPN services like ExpressVPN to access U.S. Netflix and other streaming video services blocked in Canada.

What captured the attention of the government is that Canadians access US Netflix, especially when a Bell Media executive said that those who access the service are “stealing.” The root of the problem — Michael Geist says — is Canada’s weak copyright laws, which could prohibit subscriber access to US Netflix.

But enforcing new laws that prohibit Canadian access to US Netflix or VPN use is very complicated and difficult, continues Geist. There is no way to target individuals since there are more than a million Canadians using Netflix. That leaves only Netflix on the list, so the government’s new laws may target the streaming service itself.

On top of that, the government is also considering blocking illegal sites hosted outside Canada. The real concerns here are who determines whether a site is “illegal” or “legal,” how to force ISPs to block access to foreign sites, and how to address the inevitable constitutional concerns over government-backed blocking requirements, Geist argues. This is a way to enhance the country’s copyright laws, but it could become one of the government’s most difficult and controversial issues.


  • MGSayah

    The Liberal government of Justin can go f* itself in the rear. Bad decision, after bad decision… I mean what can you expect from a substitute drama/acting teacher with no managerial or work experience.

  • guest

    He’s just for show. Thanks to the voters who want changes, this is what we got now, a substitute teacher running our once great country.

  • Nick Cameron Greene

    Uh what. Seriously what the fuck are you even talking about.I would absolutely hate it if VPN access to Netflix went away, but you can’t exactly blame Trudeau for it. The Canadian government has been under pressure for years because of our lax piracy laws. I don’t want it to change as much as the next person, but your statement is ignorant and has nothing to do with any of the issues.

  • MGSayah

    If you go back to August, Harper had promised not to mess with Canadians’ Netflix. The Conservatives vowed not to regulate or tax digital services like Netflix and YouTube and warned that his opponents could usher in a “Netflix tax” if elected.

    What we’re seeing now is a form of tax. First we saw the article that iPhoneinCanada reported on “Liberal Majority Could Result in Positive Change for Big 3: Analyst”, which said that the Trudeau govt was helping the Big 3. Now we see the Trudeau govt stepping in yet again to help the telecomm industry screw us.

  • KIII

    Does anyone know how SHOMI is doing now?

  • Nick Cameron Greene

    First off, Harper promising that didn’t mean shit, so lets not use that as proof of anything.

    Second of all, you have to understand that using a proxy to pretend to be in another country to use Netflix is indeed a form a piracy. It sure doesn’t feel like it, but it is. I don’t like it as much as you do, but it doesn’t mean you’re right about anything.

    Third, you’re not being “taxed” for anything, you’re just angry that the government is catching on to the many forms of piracy. Oh no, a government that understand the internet.

    Fourth, nothing has happened yet. Nothing has changed. Until something actually happens, there isn’t much to complain about.

  • xxxJDxxx

    Government blocking access to certain websites sets a dangerous precedent that we DO NOT WANT.

  • erth

    i can’t wait to see what they are going to do next. raise the gst?

  • BigCat

    I won’t say I disagree with you, but I kinda see things from another side.

    This pressure that the Liberals are under is more like an Industry lobby who is promoting their own interests, namely profit. This is an Industry that has done very well in a largely protected Canadian market. The balance of protection needs to swing more to the consumer in Canada. I really thought the Liberals would lead more this way.

    VPNs are used for more than just for stealing copyright material. I use one to protect my privacy. Which, is more important than ever since the Government is using dragnet monitoring of its citizens. Again, I thought the Liberals would make some improvements here.

    If the Industry wants to truly stop piracy give consumers more choice and truly open the market competition. When Netflix first started in Canada Torrents dropped by a very large percentage.

  • hlna55

    Me thinks you require assistance reading the meaning of the definition of piracy. Try again Mr. Academic.

  • hlna55

    Nobody is “stealing” anything. Netflix is a paid service. Using a foreign VPN merely entitles you to content that the CRTC and/or federal government have decided for you that you aren’t entitled to watch.

    Just my $0.05 (rounded to the nearest penny of course)

  • hlna55

    Fantastic this reminds me of the gun control program. Spend millions/billions controlling something that: a) can’t be controlled and b) serves little to no purpose in controlling in the first place.

    Great first call by Trudeau and a fantastic show of priorities… control the law abiding and tax paying masses.

    VPN control comes in to effect… millions cancel their Netflix account, bit torrent downloading become more prevalent. Sounds like prohibition of the 30s LMAO

  • BigCat

    With regards to Netflix. The Canadian offering only provides content, that is not exclusively owned by another distributor. When a Netflix user gets content from another market they are potentially cutting into a company’s distribution rights.

    This is what they term as “stealing”.

    I would like to see more fair competition in Canada, which would essentially remove the whole problem. But that would mean less profit for the greedy ones.

  • ????Dennis

    How about the government just allowing Netflix to show the same content as the states?? Seems like an easy fix to me… Oh wait… Trudeau is too high to figure that one out.

  • Salinger

    The CRTC and/or federal government makes no decision about your entitlement to see something on Netflix. That’s done by various contracts between the studios and networks with either Netflix, or some other rights holder in Canada.

    It’s simple, if the rights to a program that Netflix wants to stream in Canada is already held by someone else, say Rogers/Shaw Shomi service, then they don’t have the right to stream it in Canada. The government or CRTC has nothing to do with it.

  • Salinger

    Seriously? You believe the government is telling Netflix what they can and can’t stream in Canada?!

  • Thomas Verner

    Probably BS anyway. Been using these steps to access US Netflix in Canada without issues.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Trudeau backed Harper’s Bill C-51, so why would we expect any forward thinking from this man. Besides, all major parties cater to the whims of big-business and NOT the consumer. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer as long as we have a system where corporations fund the political parties.

    Lets look at an example of a typical consumer, I’ll call him Joe. – Joe is already helping make many corporations rich by paying for Netflix every month, paying Rogers every month for internet access at home, paying Wind every month for internet access while on the go, paying Sony for his TV, paying Apple for his iPhone and iPad – all so he can watch some movies after work. He has other bills to pay as well, or he won’t be able to watch his movies – such as electricity, heat and rent. Joe pays a lot of money out for the little free time he has when he is not working. But corporations want even more of Joe’s money. They know he really loves his movies and they make him happy with the little free time he has and so they know he will pay more if he has no other choice. And so they get people like Trudeau to pressure Joe into getting a Shomi subscription as well.