Virtual private networks (VPNs) have been under attack in Australia by the government and have been deemed as illegal services by entertainment and video streaming companies, like: Sony and Netflix. This week, HBO Now has joined the war against VPNs when it threatened to prohibit non-US users from streaming content. A remarkably large number of Australian VPN users enjoy US based video-streaming libraries, mainly Netflix and HBO and rely on their VPN services to bypass their geo-blocking policies in order to access their favourite web content.
According to Fairfax, many Australian VPN users have received warning letters from HBO Now that they don’t have permission to access their website and user their service, otherwise, their accounts will be terminated without a notice.
It has come to our attention that you may have signed up for and viewed video content on the HBO NOW streaming service from outside of the authorized service area (the United States, including D.C. and certain US territories).
Why the crack down on Australian VPN users now?
So why the hate over Australian VPN users now? For starters, HBO Now rocketed in the US ” just in time for the fifth season premiere of “Game of Thrones” and offered users the chance to stream this and other HBO shows without a standard cable connection.” However, the first four episodes of HBO’s most popular and anticipated show Game Of Thrones leaked on the internet leading to millions of downloads by torrent users via The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents and others. As a result, HBO Now is ever determined to abolish any means of streaming its services outside the United States.
Another reason for waging war against Australian VPN users is Apple’s exclusive deal with HBO Now restricting access only via Apple TV for the first three months from its launch, which also happens to be the airing period of season 5 of Game of Thrones. In spite of limiting streaming to Apple TV, Australian VPN users have been able to access the services with their VPN accounts in addition to making use of the services 30-day free trial. HBO’s situation is very similar to Netflix’s new access restriction policy against Australian VPN users.
The main reason why HBO Now is locking out non-US residents from accessing its service is because of internet pirates who took advantage of the massive leak of the first four episodes of Game of Throne’s new season. Since HBO is partner with IP-Echelon, an anti-piracy firm, it “has demanded the ISPs contact the offending parties” according to their instructions:
“Contact the subscriber who has engaged in the conduct described above and take steps to prevent the subscriber from further downloading or uploading HBO content without authorization. Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.”
This means that internet service providers (ISPs) will have the authority to suspend or even deactivate the subscriber’s service in case they ignore the company’s warnings. However, this strike back might not be as terrifying as it looks because HBO is never given the names of the unauthorized downloaders, therefore, with a very good VPN service that’s able to bypass this type of filtering, it isn’t going to be a problem for users overseas or Australian VPN users to worry about watching their favourite series on Netflix, Hulu or HBO.
According to techcrunch, ” HBO Now will be sold in the U.S. for $14.99 a month, starting in April – just in time for the return of “Game of Thrones.” The first month will be free, in order to attract potential customers. iOS device owners, including iPad and iPhone owners, will be able to access the new subscription service through the HBO app on the App Store. In addition, subscribers will also be able to watch at HBONOW.com.”