Hulu is reportedly cracking down on users who access the streaming site through a virtual private network, or VPN.
According to TorrentFreak, Hulu is now blocking IP addresses linked to all major VPN services. Upon visiting the site, VPN users will see an error message, saying they'll have to disable any anonymous proxy tools to watch videos on Hulu.
Hulu is only supposed to be available inside the United States, so the ban is meant to stop users in other countries from spoofing their locations. But in banning all VPN services, Hulu is also blocking U.S. users who want to maintain additional privacy on the Internet--which these days is completely understandable--and Americans trying to access the site while traveling overseas.
This isn't the first time Hulu has tried to shut out VPN users. The site's ban on anonymous proxy tools dates back to 2009, when some users started seeing the exact same error message that appears today. A section on Hulu's support Website says anonymous proxy servers are forbidden due to "contractual limitations," stemming from the possibility that users could be outside the United States. Though the site doesn't say that all VPNs are banned, it does say that some of them may be flagged as anonymous proxies.
TorrentFreak's report suggests that Hulu is now casting a wider net, and banning many IP addresses of popular VPNs such as VikingVPN, TorGuard and Private Internet Access. These providers are now scrambling for solutions.
TorGuard says not all of its shared IP addresses are blocked yet, and the company can eventually add more dedicated IPs that are unlikely to be blocked. Private Internet Access told TorrentFreak that it has "an existing relationship with Hulu," and has contacted the company to see if there's a solution.
While some workarounds may be possible, Hulu is still making it just a little harder for VPN users to gain access, especially if they have to switch providers or jump through additional hoops. As Hulu has shown in the past, it's willing to shut out U.S. users to make that happen.