Google Cracking Down on a VPN-Powered Discount

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Photo: photosince (Shutterstock)

It sounds like the jig is up for YouTube users who snagged cheaper Premium memberships by obscuring their location with virtual private networks (VPNs).

In the U.S., Google charges individual users $14 per month for YouTube Premium, which limits ads and offers a few additional features. But that price varies widely across locales, and some Reddit users say they once managed to snag better deals by pretending to access the service from other countries, PCMag and TechCrunch reported. Google charges the equivalent of $3 per month or less in places such as Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, and the Philippines, according to Android Authority. However, that workaround deal is apparently toast.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter, but the internet giant’s support staff reportedly told PCMag that YouTube recently started cancelling premium plans “for accounts identified as having falsified signup country information.” A YouTube Help page directs would-be subscribers to turn their VPN off if they get an error while signing up for Premium.

Crucially, VPNs have a variety of uses and Google even once sold one; the Google One service ceased to exist in April, apparently because it wasn’t popular. Some folks may turn to VPNs in search of discounts, but others rely on VPNs to access content and features that simply aren’t otherwise available where they live.

The apparent clampdown is just the latest in Google’s efforts to squeeze more dollars out of the video site. Google also recently escalated its crackdown on ad blockers by making YouTube videos unwatchable for users of services like AdBlock.

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