For the Netflix-addicted, it probably isn’t news that Netflix currently limits a wide variety of titles based off of geo-location. In other words, if you’re in Canada, the titles available to you on Netflix are noticibely different than those currently streaming for someone in the United States.
A lot of different services offer unique solutions to this, giving Netflix subscribers, no matter what country they are in, the ability to fool Netflix into thinking they’re somewhere else thus enabling them access to region-specific content. Netflix still collects money from this person, so there isn’t a huge incentive to try and squash this type of behavior. Sure, content owners might put a little pressure on Netflix to crack down, but it’s a bit of a whack-a-mole problem that isn’t necessarily broadly problematic.
But new web app Smartflix is trying to make this process of accessing all international Netflix libraries even easier, which certainly made our ears perk up. It can be rather complicated trying to figure out what movies are streaming in each specific region, so Smartflix creates one simple interface to select movies and TV shows, then through a few acrobatic technical maneuvers convinces Netflix you’re in a different country so you can start streaming that title.
The app is currently free while in beta, with plans to monetize once the initial product is released.
A few things of note below:
Is Smartflix legal?
The answer here is tricky. Will you go to prison if Netflix or your governing body finds out you’re using Smartflix? Probably not. Is Smartflix a violation of Netflix’s terms of service? Yes. But Netflix, at least to our knowledge, has never banned an account using similar services. We can’t claim to be experts on every country’s laws, but in the US at least, it’s probably safe to test the app out with little trouble.
Will Netflix block Smartflix?
This one remains unknown. I think Netflix would happily let its users go right ahead with using a service like this as long as the content owners don’t get too uptight about it’s spread. In other words, if it remains a small quantity of Netflix subscribers that start using Smartflix, the better off they’ll all be.
Is Smartflix safe and secure?
Good question. Going through their terms and conditions leads us to believe that they’re not up to anything too malicious. There were some initial concerns raised by the Netflix reddit community, but the app’s creator took the time to answer questions and speak directly to these concerns. While it’s definitely possible that the Smartflix creators could be snooping through your usage data, it doesn’t seem likely that they’re incredibly interested in doing so.
We have reached out to Smartflix to get the full story and will update when we hear back.