NFL targets VPN hosting sites

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The NFL has reportedly sent several takedown notices to Google asking the search giant to remove a number of VPN-related URLs from its search results.

The sites in question promote the use of VPN services “to illegally stream NFL games” according to a recent request. However, Google has decided not to remove most of the URLs from its search results despite the fact that many of the sites show how VPNs can be used to bypass geographical restrictions.

VPN services have grown in popularity among consumers looking for additional privacy and security online. At the same time though, VPNs have other use cases including bypassing geographical restrictions to access region blocked content by changing a user's IP address to one in a different country.

Recently consumers have begun to use VPNs to access Netflix's US library in other countries or to watch BBC iPlayer while abroad. A few years ago this wasn't such a big problem but now more content providers have started to actively ban VPN users in an attempt to stop unauthorized viewers.

DMCA takedown notices

The NFL has grown increasingly concerned over how consumers are using VPNs to access its content from abroad or to get around regional blackouts. Unlike other companies that have started banning users who try to access their services through a VPN, the NFL has decided to go after the media outlets that promote VPN usage.

A recent DMCA takedown notice sent to Google on behalf of the NFL did not list any pirated copies of NFL games but instead requested the removal of a number of VPN-related URLs. According to the notice, VPN sites “promote the use of their software to illegally stream NFL games.”

The list of targeted URLs includes a number of guides that explain to users how they can use a VPN to bypass blackout restrictions and watch the NFL even in countries where American football isn't broadcast on television or streamed over the internet. The VPN provider ExpressVPN is included in the list as well as several dedicated VPN review sites and tech publications.

At this time though, it is still unclear as to whether the NFL sent the takedown notice itself or if it was sent by an imposter which does occur in some cases. Google has also yet to remove many of the sites listed in the takedown notice from its search results.

  • Also check out our complete list of the best VPN services of 2020

Via Torrent Freak

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.