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BBC actively seeking to block VPN access to iPlayer


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UPDATE: A BBC spokesperson has contacted TrustedReviews to point out the firm's action is unrelated to the GWI research figures, mentioned below

A BBC statement reads: “These figures simply aren’t plausible. All our evidence shows the vast majority of BBC iPlayer usage is in the UK. BBC iPlayer and the content on it is paid for by UK license fee payers in the UK and we take appropriate steps to protect access to this content.”

Original story continues below...

The BBC is clamping down on unauthorised use of its iPlayer platform via VPN, following research claiming up to 65 million people are accessing the service from outside the UK.

The Beeb has confirmed it is taking measures to prevent access which contravenes its terms of service and, naturally, that includes the use of VPN tools to fool the iPlayer into thinking the viewer is based in Blighty.

In a statement given the corporation suggested it had been battling illegal access for quite some time.

It wrote: "We regularly make updates to our technology to help prevent access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK which breaks our terms of use.

"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."

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The news comes after a week in which overseas users began reporting their traditional means of circumnavigating the location blockers were no longer working.

A TorrentFreak report initially contained a statement from the BBC saying the restrictions are geared towards halting privacy.

The news will come as a blow to ex-parts, who may still be paying a license fee back in the UK, who’ve used crafty tools to catch up on their favourite shows.

However, the providers of VPN services are already finding workarounds for the blocks, which will likely see new UK-based IP addresses continually established in order to stay ahead of the Beeb's blockers.

Since the folding of the ‘Global iPlayer’ service, non-UK users have struggled to find a legal means to catch up on their favourite shows.


October 16, 2015, 1:59 pm

"The news will come as a blow to ex-parts"

I believe you mean ex-pats.


October 16, 2015, 2:32 pm

"BBC ...halting privacy"? I thought Big Brother was on ITV


October 16, 2015, 3:52 pm

it's c5


October 16, 2015, 3:53 pm

Good. Freeloaders can get stuffed


October 16, 2015, 4:18 pm

lol where is toboev from lol


October 17, 2015, 1:11 am

The whole system is stupid. When you pay your licence fee, you should get a card with a number and PIN code, then use that to log into UK on-demand services and to access BBC iPlayer AND the entire back-catalogue of BBC shows, after all, we paid for them, we should be able watch them as and when we want without having to buy them again on DVD or whatever.

For those outside the UK who do not pay the fee, charge an access fee or subscription for full iPlayer access, why make people pay for VPN when the BBC could be taking the money and using it to make programmes?

Tim Wye

October 17, 2015, 8:52 am

It's spelt "licence". Just saying.

Miss McGerkinshaw

October 17, 2015, 7:55 pm

Why not have a sign up to pay option like Netflix and other sites?


October 18, 2015, 1:10 am

Would Brits also be able to sign up and pay in lieu of the license fee? If not, it really wouldn't be fair for them to be the only people in the world who don't have the choice to subscribe to the BBC - or not to subscribe. Maybe the BBC should just switch to voluntary subscriptions globally, but that would require they actually set up business worldwide (look at Netflix, which has taken years to do this, it isn't like snapping your fingers) and would be an enormous cultural shift that I don't think they're willing to embrace.


October 18, 2015, 1:11 am

Can you really blame "freeloaders" who don't have a legal option to pay for what they want?

Miss McGerkinshaw

October 18, 2015, 6:20 am

If the costs were the same for both options (license fee / subscription) I don't see a problem with an either/or solution. However as my understanding is that many avoid paying the licence fee perhaps the BBC would even increase its revenue by having a subscription model.
I'm no computer expert so don't know how long it would take to switch over to a global model, but surely if someone (i.e. Netflix) has found the way it's only a matter of following the leader?


October 18, 2015, 8:09 am

they don't have the legal right... and the bbc doesnt have the money to provide the rights for viewing globally (i,e why should uk licence fee payers pay for others to watch for free)... other companies have the legal right which they paid for to show content in other areas.. or can you not see that?


October 18, 2015, 10:28 pm

The BBC spends WAYYYYYYYY too much time, money and general resources trying to stop people from watching its programs---programs already paid for by the millions (billions?) of UK taxpayer pounds.
I know it's illegal for people from outside the UK to access this content, but even if the BBC only made a token effort to thwart this practice, the onus (and consequences) should be on the those illegally accessing the content, not on the BBC to go to Herculean lengths to stop them.
I truly don't see the BBC's motivation here.
1) As others have stated, there is no legal way for foreigners to access BBC programming. So it's not as if everyone accessing programming are evil thieves who could / should pay for the service and are just trying to get it for nothing instead;
2) 'Illegal' access of its programs costs it nothing extra and does nothing to hamper its broadcasts in any way;
3) It (the BBC) isn't the one(s) doing anything illegal (thereby requiring it to waste all this money and effort). It is those illegally accessing it who have the onus on their heads. If they (the users) are willing to risk the legal consequences, why should the BBC care?
My last point may be irrelevant, but I'm from Canada, and we Canadian taxpayers contribute great gobs of taxpayer monies to support our CBC television and radio programming. I can honestly say that if millions of people from other countries accessed our CBC without paying for it, it wouldn't bother me in the least. In fact, I'd be pleased that they wanted to see and hear Canadian programs. I'd think of it as a kind of 'promote Canada' sort of thing.
I know 'stealing is stealing', but I have to admit to a bias of "who's it hurting?" when it comes to this particular issue.
Correct me if I'm missing something in my arguments here.


October 19, 2015, 8:44 am

Whislt I agree with the sentiment of what you write, and I can't understand why the Beeb doesn't create a legitimate way for people outside the UK to access its content, you are wrong on a minor technical detail:

"access of its programs costs it nothing extra"

There is a cost associated with providing the infrastructure to stream content. The more people doing the streaming, the bigger the cost. Either the Beeb is running their own servers for this or they are paying someone else to. Either way, there's a cost.


October 19, 2015, 10:08 pm

I'd want the nice stuff in my neighbours house, and - darn it - they don't offer me a legal way to get it, so who could blame me if I just go ahead?
Actually, I get your point, but it's a thin excuse. The BBC has its reasons for not being willing to sell abroad, does that justify people taking it anyway?


October 23, 2015, 12:54 am

Yes, 'PGrGr', good point. I hadn't thought of that cost associated with the technical end of things.
I imagine if thousands or millions of us from overseas are accessing BBC programming, they would need much greater server capacity which, obviously, would cost a lot.
I'm still pondering just how big (relatively speaking) the cost would be to accommodate us 'freeloaders' and whether it *might still be justified for the BBC (and, therefore British taxpayers) to spring for it.
My thinking goes along the line of "Hmm...a massive corporation with an unbelievably big budget, which in all likelihood wastes gobs of money left and right which the taxpayers never see. Therefore, (depending on how big the cost) couldn't they direct some of that 'waste' toward permitting outsiders to view their shows, given the (purported) upsides I mentioned in my first instalment.
This, of course, assumes: a) That the BBC's budget is as large as I have gathered; b) That as much money 'slips through the cracks' as is often reported about big companies (I'm guessing this is pretty much guaranteed), and c) That UK taxpayers would either be indifferent to the issue or, better yet, feel generous enough to allow it.
Failing the above, at least come up with a (reasonable) fee for access.

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