TV streaming service Hulu, which offers online video to US web browsers, is reportedly stepping up its attempts to block viewers from overseas accessing its program library. According to a story on TorrentFreak, it’s started preventing people from watching shows if it decides that they’re attempting to connect from an anonymised proxy or virtual private network (VPN).

The reason, according to the firms terms and conditions, is that it needs to be able to identify a user’s geographic location using the IP address. Anonymised proxies and VPNs are a common way around such geo-restrictions for people from overseas – like, say, South Africa – where streaming services haven’t launched yet to watch the latest US shows on their computers.

It’s increasingly common, for example, for South Africans to watch Netflix using simple workarounds like this.

Proxies and VPNs aren’t only used for this sort of technically illegitimate access, however. They’re also useful tools for those who want to protect their privacy online, since they mask the IP address of your PC while you surf. For legit, paying US citizens to keep watching they’ll have no choice but to let their ISP know they’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan (the shame!) or just go back to torrenting files anonymously.

According to Engadget, the block isn’t based IP addresses known to be associated with VPNs or proxies. We’re going to do some testing in the office after the weekend, but in the meantime, if you’re a Hulu user who’s run into this issue, let us know in the comments below.

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.