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Friday, June 11, 2021

Netflix tests clampdown on password sharing

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The video-streaming giant is taking a firmer stance against people sharing account passwords, testing a feature that prompts non-paying viewers to buy a subscription. A company spokesperson wrote that the test was “designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so.”

Netflix will soon be taking an uncompromising position on password sharing, as the company last week began to test a verification system designed to discourage the common practice of password sharing. We may soon find out just how many of Netflix viewers will agree to pay to use its services.

A select number of subscribers this week were met with a prompt reading, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” Users were then asked to verify their account by entering a generated code sent via email or text. Though it’s easy to just send the code to the person involved, Netflix may choose to expand its password monitoring usage by IP address tracking.

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“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a Netflix representative told the publication. 

The test is reportedly limited to customers accessing the service through smart TVs, though testing could expand at a later date and become standard policy. Alternatively, nothing might come of the test, as the company told CNBC it conducts “hundreds” of similar trials each year.

According to research firm Magid, about 33% of Netflix users share their password with at least one other person, CNBC reports. The practice leads to lost revenue for Netflix, though the firm has done little to thwart freeloaders in the past. 

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Netflix’s basic $8.99-a-month price tier limits streaming to one screen, while the step-up $13.99 tier allows for shows to be streamed to two screens simultaneously. The service’s terms and conditions restrict credential sharing to members of a single household.

Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2019 said the company monitors password sharing but had no plans to take action against those who access the service without authorization.

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