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BBC iPlayer starts to block UK VPN server access

by Mark Tyson on 19 October 2015, 13:39

Tags: BBC, BBC Multimedia, iPlayer

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacvkc

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The BBC iPlayer is a popular on-demand video streaming and catch-up service, intended for use by UK residents only. Now the BBC has stepped up its efforts to restrict access to those outside of the UK, particularly those who use VPNs to access the streaming content, reports TorrentFreak (via NeoWin).

You might have noticed that if you went abroad and tried to access BBC iPlayer streaming programmes you were blocked from doing so. A simple message would say that the programmes are "available to play in the UK only". To get around the restriction many people, often paying license holders, have been setting up a UK VPN service on their computers so that they can watch BBC iPlayer on their travels. That service effectively fooled the BBC iPlayer into thinking the steaming person was residing in the UK.

It must be noted that, complicating matters, some UK residents use VPNs even when residing in the UK for security reasons. Some of these users are also reportedly being affected, despite only wanting to protect themselves while hopping on Wi-Fi connections that might be suspect, like free Wi-Fi in a coffee chop, for example.

TorrentFreak spoke to a BBC spokesman about the recent changes which were implemented to "keep iPlayer 'pirates' at bay". The BBC spokesman told TorrentFreak that "We regularly make updates to our technology to help prevent access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK which breaks our terms of use". In attempting to address the concerns of VPN users residing in the UK, "BBC iPlayer is freely available to users across the UK without a VPN, and we also seek to ensure users of private VPNs such as those used by schools and companies in the UK have access," said the spokesman.

While the above steps have been implemented, the BBC admits it doesn't have the ability to discriminate between VPN users using this networking tech for protection and those outside of the UK watching iPlayer shows. "We cannot be confident of the location" of such people, explained the corporation in a statement. However some VPN service providers have already announced that they can bypass the BBC's new measures. IPVanish and TorGuard told TF that they could swerve the BBC's blocks, at least periodically.

Earlier this year the BBC closed down an international version of iPlayer which allowed overseas users to view content for a small fee.

HEXUS Forums :: 39 Comments

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Earlier this year the BBC closed down an international version of iPlayer which allowed overseas users to view content for a small fee.

Would have made a lot more sense blocking VPN services before they closed this down.
Would have made a lot more sense blocking VPN services before they closed this down.

this is the bbc… they don't know how to manage anything because they've never had to worry over money due to the tv license.

Common sense would have been to do a ‘worldwide’ subscription service with a regional lockdown like you say… they could have made it so it was region unlocked to those who pay a UK tv license and live primarily in the UK (you might want to watch Eastenders while on holiday) by adding a code to the tv license or something similar. To be fair though I'm actually struggling to think of anything I watch that's on the bbc these days….

Mind you I hate region locks and other geographical restrictions such as delays in other countries with a passion, they're just an antiquated system that media companies are still hanging on to while constantly complaining about piracy which is ‘largely’ due to these restrictions and ‘communities’ no longer being regionally restricted….
What a d*** move
They're playing Hopscotch but they're several turns behind. The winners will be specialised VPN services that won't be so easy to trace.

Also, it appears that you're no longer British if you're on holiday or working overseas (but still paying license fees).
What a d*** move

Here in the UK we pay a licence fee - i.e. we PAID for the content whether we liked it or not.

Foreign users did not pay the licence fee so the BBC allowing them to view iPlayer content for free is rather like Sky letting anyone use Sky Player for free. It's not a “d*** move” at all, it's simply insisting people contribute their fair share to the costs of producing entertainment they enjoy, sadly in today's world there are plenty of people who make the “d*** move” of thinking they are entitled to have whatever they want to watch for free. Unfortunately because of those people the BBC are trying to close a loophole which may have the collateral effect of limiting a very small number of legitimate UK licence payers but fact is 99.9% of legitimate users are not using a VPN to watch iPlayer.