The Memo Revisit: Netflix and password sharing

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Love is sharing a password… for a fee. Revisiting Netflix and password sharing

Amy Howe – 20 March 2023

Revisit: Netflix and password sharing - 09 January 2023

You’re joking… not another one?! It’s how we’d imagine ‘Brenda from Bristol’ would react to yet another update from Netflix on their crack-down on password sharing. In February, Netflix announced that it was rolling out measures across Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain outlining who you can and cannot share your account with. Among other things, the update explains that users must set a primary location for their account and ‘check-in’ at the location every 31 days or risk being locked out. The streaming platform will use a combination of IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity to determine the location of users.

If you’re worried about how family members, like university students, living away from home for long periods of time will remain connected to the account, Netflix is one step ahead of you. Users on a standard or premium plan can now add an extra sub-account for an additional monthly fee. While it seems users in the UK are a safe distance away from these measures, there are rumblings of Netflix’s plans to start rolling out these measures in the UK later this month for an additional sum of £2.40… We’ll be back with an update on that. With remote working and digital nomad lifestyles on the rise, it remains unclear how Netflix will tackle the issue of users without a primary location or those who are away from their primary locations for longer than 31 days.

But before you breath a sigh of relief that you’re safe from the extra fees for the time being, it remains that if you are a password-sharer, you’re likely committing both a civil and criminal offence. Last year, the UK IPO released guidelines on password sharing, though reports from the BBC suggest that this was swiftly removed. The guidelines suggested that password sharing is a criminal and civil matter, and a spokesperson has since confirmed that IPO’s legal position remains. Similarly, the CPS has not denied the possibility of criminal action and prosecution on the basis of password sharing if there was a police investigation. The good news is it’s highly unlikely that the police would open an investigation into users sharing their passwords on a small scale. The bad news remains that although criminal action is unlikely to arise, users may soon have to fork out that bit extra every month.