Grim news might be awaiting for film buffs and series bingers in the UK. Chances are they will no longer be taking their local Netflix library along when traveling to the European Union after Brexit. That is to happen if Brexit secretary Dominic Raab fails to avoid leaving the EU without a deal.
The UK Government released 29 technical papers last week, in addition to the 75 already published – all of them aimed at preparing for a worst-case Brexit scenario.
But what the UK Government talks about in their documents concerns not only Netflix:
The portability regulation will cease to apply to UK nationals when they travel to the EU. This means online content service providers will not be required or able to offer cross-border access to UK consumers under the EU Regulation. UK consumers may see restrictions to their online content services when they temporarily visit the EU.
How does this euro-bureaucratic mumbo jumbo translate to (not) watching Netflix?
Among the documents, there was the one suggesting that copyright rules will no longer allow access to certain e-services while traveling in the EU. Currently, all EU citizens can access their local Netflix accounts or other streaming services regardless of which member state they currently reside. After Brexit, this portability regulation will no longer apply for Brits in the EU and vice versa.
Both parties have to reach a deal before March 29, 2019, to avoid the UK losing EU-wide portability rules.
Netflix assured the UK users that its service would work after Brexit. But it will do so on a geo-location basis, meaning that traveling from the UK leaves you with access to a local Netflix version only, which might not have some of the UK-only content. The majority of the national Netflix libraries should overlap, though.
December 3, 2018, is another critical date both for the EU and the UK. It’s when The Geo-blocking Regulation, a rule for stopping the discrimination based on nationality or place of residence, comes into the effect. It would allow EU citizens to freely access online services bought locally in all member states. This includes online purchases and e-services, such as hosting or cloud storage. What is more, sellers will have to offer the same terms and conditions of sale and not restrict payment means.
But if there’s no deal come March 29, 2019, when Brexit happens, the UK will no longer be included in this regulation, which essentially means the UK will be a “third country,” to which certain services will no longer be licensed. Both the UK and the EU member states would have to come up with a way to deal with this legal issue. This means a British company can provide different terms to natives when compared to EU citizens. While this might sound like a way to offer a better deal for homies, it can also backfire with the EU offering its member states better terms.
This comes as a warning from Labour shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, who doubts the Government’s chances to prepare for a “no deal” exit in time. He also blames Tories for putting Britain in a situation where a good deal with Europe is at serious risk.
Brexit affects not only Netflix and relations with the EU
What is more, this has to do not only with EU-UK relations. Right now, there’s this EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework for regulating transatlantic exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes, and there’s no info how the UK-US data flow will be managed and regulated after Brexit.
In addition to this, a no-deal exit would mean losing free trade agreements with 70+ countries around the world, which will further complicate how different online and offline services will be provided and priced.
No-deal is not only a problem of the UK, as it will impact a lot of companies in a lot of different states and jurisdictions. It includes not only Netflix but any other streaming service, such as Spotify.
While losing access to a few local Netflix shows might not be a big deal for most Brits, the situation with Spotify is different. Using it in a different country for more than 14-days prompts a request to upgrade or change the location. Having in mind the increasing mobility of Britain’s millennials (who hold these two brands at the top of the popularity ladder), such possibilities speak volumes.
How to access Netflix UK and other streaming services after Brexit?
In the wake of such a prognosis, what one can do is check for ways to continue using a service they’ve become accustomed to. A virtual private network (or VPN in short) can help because it has the power to mask your real IP and make the service provider think you’re logging in from the UK, while in reality, you might be chilling somewhere along the Mediterranean coast.
Not all VPNs are capable of unblocking Netflix, however. In fact, only a few of them can do it with a degree of reliability. So if you’re still not using a VPN and your main goal is to continue watching your show, check out the list of Best VPNs for Netflix that our experts have prepared.
Have a better VPN for post-Brexit UK to recommend? Let us know in the comments section!