Expats spoofing their gadgets into believing they are still in the UK so they can watch TV programmes from home are under attack from technology companies.
Many expats illegally tap into British TV from overseas by signing up for sophisticated technology such as proxy servers, vpn tunnels and unblockers.
All three are ways of tricking an online streaming portal into believing a tablet, pc or smartphone is located in the UK from thousands of miles away.
They all work by masking the real IP address of the gadget, which is country specific, by routing or displaying another IP address based in the UK.
Some firms allow expats to dial into their UK servers for a subscription and relay the programmes on to them.
The problem for streaming video companies such as the BBC (iPlayer), Amazon (Lovefilm) and Netflix is that the media companies licensing movies and TV programmes to them only allow broadcast to a single country under each licence.
So, if Netflix wants to stream a film worldwide, a licence has to be available for each country, but the Netflix catalogue varies from country to country depending on the licence.
Proxy servers, vpns and unblockers are work rounds for solving this problem for expats and now the streaming companies are ready to fight back.
Netflix has announced ‘sniffer’ technology is on the way that will seek out proxies and close them down.
“We would like every customer in every country to have access to the same media,” said a Netflix spokesman.
“That’s out goal, but we need to sort out the proxy and licensing problem before we can accomplish this.
Lifetime bans for abusing proxies
Sky Sports, the satellite TV company, already has a team that tracks and closes pirate English Premier League live broadcasts
The BBC and Amazon allow users to download programmes and movies to view from anywhere in the world on a USB stick or from the cloud.
Technology web site Lifehacker has a list of browser extensions and software that allow expats to display an IP address for any country, regardless of where they are in the world.
These apps easily let expats worldwide access US or UK Netflix services, providing the user has a subscription.
Beware of the wrath of Netflix. Not only are they working to close down proxies, they are also banning anyone using the technology from Netflix for good – or as long as they can tie your location with an IP address.