New head of Bell Media faces social media backlash over Netflix comment

TORONTO – The new head of Bell Media is facing backlash on social media after saying it should be socially unacceptable for Canadians to use technological tricks to access U.S. Netflix.

Mary Ann Turcke told a Toronto telecom conference on Wednesday that using virtual private networks to view content not available in Canada should become taboo.

“It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix, like throwing garbage out your car window — you just don’t do it,” she said.

“We have to get engaged and tell people they are stealing. When we were young and made the error of swiping candy bars at the checkout of the grocery store, what did our parents do? They marched us back in, humiliated us, told us to apologize to the nice lady and likely scolded us on the way home.”

Turcke, who recently replaced Kevin Crull as the company’s president, recalled reprimanding her 15-year-old daughter over the teen’s use of a VPN to watch the American version of Netflix.

She said the girl was told she was stealing and that it was like stealing anything else.

Turcke criticized newspapers for publishing how-to articles she said were “educating the masses on how to get around copyright law.”

Many scoffed at her comments on social media, calling them out of touch and unrealistic.

“What is this, opposite day? The only people not using a VPN to use Netflix are those who don’t know how,” one tweeted.

“I gladly do it, and lots of us did it when working for Bell. Offer choice or I’ll choose for myself,” wrote another.

A few sided with Turcke, accusing those who defended the practice of making excuses for their bad behaviour.

“You can rationalize accessing foreign versions of Netflix all you want. The law is on Bell’s side and your skirting these restrictions isn’t the equivalent of Rosa Parks,” one online commentor wrote.

VPNs allow users to mask the location of their IP address, circumventing geographic restrictions on online content.

A spokesman for Bell Media said Turcke would not be available for comment on Thursday.