A group of Gulf states are calling Netflix to remove "offensive content" that goes against Islamic principles.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) media watchdog released a joint statement, warning that it would otherwise take legal measures if the giant streaming service will fail to comply, Arab News reported.
This means that people living across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may soon need to get one of the best VPN services to bypass censorship and access the full Netflix catalog as before.
Netflix accused of promoting homosexuality
Even though the incriminating content has yet to be specified, CEO at the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) Esra Assery told Arab News that it "violates Islamic and societal values and principles." These appear to include movies and shows directed at children.
At the same time, referring to the French film Cuties, the BBC reported that the Saudi national news channel Al-Ekhbariya accused Netflix to spread "immoral messages that threaten the healthy upbringing of children."
In another video, the TV channel claims that the popular streaming platform uses its content to promote "homosexuality by focusing excessively on homosexuals." The original tweet is below.
So far, Netflix has not released a formal response to such allegations.
فيديو | #نتفليكس تروج للشذوذ الجنسي للأطفال تحت غطاء سينمائي.. فهل سيحجب #Netflix في السعودية قريبا؟#نشرة_النهار#الإخبارية pic.twitter.com/kxu5zJ20enSeptember 6, 2022
Even though there aren't formal laws on sexual orientation, homosexual sex is still considered a prohibited activity. Therefore, it's not the first time that Gulf Arab countries use censorship to prevent LGBTQ+ references from being displayed.
In April, Saudi Arabia blocked the distribution across national cinemas of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as Disney refused to remove homosexual scenes.
In June, it was the time for the UAE to ban the animated movie Lightyear for a kiss amongst two girls characters. Rainbow-coloured toys and pieces of clothing were barred across Saudi shops in the same month.
How to watch censored Netflix content
Following the latest events, it's likely that people living in Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf Arab areas soon won't be able to watch the full Netflix catalog as they can right now.
Luckily there's a piece of software that can help in this case: a VPN.
Born as a way to boost users' online privacy, virtual private networks are growing among keen streamers as a way of bypassing internet censorship and other types of content blocks.
This is because every time you connect to a VPN, you do so via one of its secure international servers. Put simply, it allows you to spoof your IP address and trick your ISP to think that you are located in a completely different part of the world.
Due to the fact that doing so is against the streaming service's terms and conditions - not against the law, though - a powerful Netflix VPN is needed to bypass geo-restrictions and successfully access worldwide libraries.
If you are based in any of the affected countries and thinking of getting such a tool to enjoy a better streaming freedom, you need to bear in mind that watching banned content may be against the law and you will do so at your own risk.
But, while we don't suggest you break such regulations, we recommend opting for a secure VPN provider for streaming worldwide content in the most safe way possible.
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Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org