Streaming Services Move to Block Smart DNS and VPN Users

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This week, Sling TV joined a growing list of services, including HBO Now, that are blocking Smart DNS users from their service. Over the last few days, we heard from several people complaining about being blocked by Sling TV complaints supported by copies of emails from Sling TV:

Photo credit /u/ierc on Reddit
Photo credit /u/ierc on Reddit

Smart DNS services allow non-U.S. residents access to U.S. Netflix. They also allows U.S. residents access, for example, to the BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom. Until recently, this has been happening without any response from streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and newcomers, like Sling TV, except for a few attempts to block IP ranges, etc.

Now, instead of trying to block services that offer Smart DNS, companies like HBO Now and Sling TV are just cancelling the subscriptions of anyone they think are using Smart DNS or VPNs —sometimes without warning.

VPN users seem to be less affected by the recent moves to block access outside the United States as most of the complaints come from Smart DNS users. True VPNs, though slightly slower, will completely hide the IP of the user in question. Smart DNS services do not hide your IP, so any service that tracks IPs can quickly find out who outside of the United States is using a Smart DNS service. Now you can still get caught when using a VPN by connecting to a service well connected tot he wrong country.  (Here is a great video explaining the difference between Smart DNS and a VPN.)

While the battle between streaming services and Smart DNS/VPN companies is not new, it is definitely heating up.

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