Sharing your Netflix password with a friend or family member has always been a gray area. Technically, it’s against the rules. However, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has previously spoken positively of the practice and has never shown a great inclination to curb passwords shared between family members or close friends.
At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Hasting said, “We love people who share Netflix. This is a positive thing, not a negative thing. “
But while it’s true that word of mouth is a great way to turn Netflix’s latest crime documentary series or drama box set into a must-have, surely comes a point where too many people piggyback the same £ 5.99 a month subscription? In the past, Netflix seems to have drawn the line when kids move out of their homes permanently. Neil Hunt, Chief Product Manager, told Digital Spy a few years ago, “We assume Netflix is a household purchase and that sharing with members of the household is a sensible thing to do.
“When the kids go to college, will they use that login? Well, that’s probably fine, but when the kids go out and start their own household, they want control of their own account, so that’ll turn in there at some point a new source of income for us.
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However, Netflix is now testing a new feature to prevent accounts outside the same four walls from being shared. The crackdown is already in place in “hundreds” of accounts and is designed to ensure that everyone logged into the same account is living together.
To do this, Netflix randomly pings some users with a notification asking them to verify that they are living with the account owner. To do this, Netflix viewers must enter a code that was sent to the bill payer via SMS or email.
Of course, if you live in the same house, jogging downstairs and getting the code from the correct family members email address is easy enough. Likewise with co-residents or an apartment at the university. However, it gets a little more difficult if you dedicate yourself to the Account Owner in another part of the country.
It is unclear how long it will take users to enter the code and whether some viewers will be cut off if they fail the test.
The notification, which is already being tested by Netflix worldwide, clarifies, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you’ll need your own account to keep watching.”
Netflix claims that the new feature is not only intended to prevent passwords from being shared between friends, it is also an important security feature. If someone managed to steal your password – or an ex-partner is still logged into your account and using your login to stream, they won’t be able to verify themselves with the correct code. After that, they will no longer be able to use your account details.
A spokesperson for Netflix said, “This test is designed to ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so.”
The Netflix Terms of Service state in the US: “The Netflix Service and any content displayed through the Service is for your personal, non-commercial use only and may not be distributed to anyone outside your household.”
With this new feature, it seems Netflix is finally serious about cracking down on those who break this rule.