Netflix’s Password Crackdown Test Doesn’t Go Well


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Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Get all your little fiddles ready, we have some bad news for Netflix that we really feel, really badly about. Really. We feel so bad for Netflix. We’re holding back our tears here, crying out to the sky that Netflix doesn’t deserve to be punished, and how many bad things happen to perfectly nice streaming services that never do anything wrong. Never!

But yes, the bad news: the test of Netflix’s new system to crack down on people who share their passwordwhich is currently taking place in Costa Rica, Chile and Peru, is not going well. Very sad, right?! Apparently the main issue is messaging, with Netflix charging people the equivalent of $2 or $3 extra to share their account with anyone outside of their “household,” but the exact definition of “household” seems… foreseeable vague and limiting.

Apparently, Netflix’s official position is that a household is “exclusively people with whom a subscriber lives” and not a subscriber’s immediate family. It comes from Rest of the world, which indicates that the National Institute for the Defense of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property believes that this could be considered “a means of arbitrarily discriminating against users”. Basically, the idea seems to be that a Netflix account would be tied to a physical location, which just raises a lot of questions that Netflix doesn’t seem to have answered, like what happens if you move, or if you’re on vacation, or your child goes to school?

Rest of the world spoke to “over a dozen” Netflix subscribers in Peru who said they were confused about the new rules and that Netflix wasn’t even enforcing them, with an anonymous customer service representative saying they were had been told that, if a customer calls and complains, they should be given a special verification code that will allow them to use their account in multiple places. So even Netflix doesn’t seem particularly keen on sticking to this system.

The downside is that these all seem like solvable problems or, if you want to be cynical, problems that Netflix could just ignore. Limiting an account to a physical location is only a problem if you think Netflix doesn’t care about customers. Considering we’re even talking about an anti-sharing crackdown in the first place, it seems pretty obvious how much Netflix cares.


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