15 February 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

It may not be possible for some Singaporeans to get their fix of The Mandalorian Star Wars TV series by using technological tricks to watch an overseas version of Disney+, such as before the video streaming service launches here officially on Feb 23. The Walt Disney Company told The Straits Times that in line with the Disney+ subscriber agreement, it does not allow users to access Disney+ using a virtual private network - to bypass geographical restrictions - in a territory where the service is not yet live.

 Associate Professor Liang Zhenkai from the National University of Singapore (NUS) said that when a person uses a VPN, Disney cannot directly detect the overseas clients at the network level.

"These undetected IP addresses used by the VPN service are not easily blocked. If Disney gradually recognises the VPN provider's network, they can block it later," said Prof Liang, who is from NUS' Department of Computer Science.

This could happen if, for example, Disney detects a large number of unrelated users sending in requests from the same IP address, which suggests a delegation service like a VPN service is being used. But Prof Liang said that if the Disney+ app is used for streaming, there are other methods to recognise whether the client is from a different country, such as using the app store's region or global positioning system information of a mobile device.

The Straits Times, 16 February 2021