Password sharing under the spotlight of new Netflix test

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Netflix is testing out a new feature that could prove divisive if it ever makes into the fully fledged version of the streaming service, as it is now notifying a small sample of users about password sharing.

While people don’t readily admit to it, being able to set up multiple accounts and share passwords with others is a big reason why Netflix has proved so popular, but it can also mean that someone could get access to your account without your knowledge.

Consequently, the new feature is aimed to curb that from happening, but could potentially see an end to password sharing in certain cases.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Verge, after the notification was first spotted by the team over at GammaWire.

The streaming service confirms that if it detects that someone is trying to access an account without being the account holder, they will see a notification appear on screen saying, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.”

A verification code will then be sent to the primary account owner via email or text message, in order to continue watching Netflix on the aforementioned device.

It therefore looks like this latest test mirrors some of the features that Spotify introduced to its Family Plan tier, back in 2019.

Whether or not this will stoke the ire of users if the feature moves out of the test phase into the full version of Netflix remains to be seen, but the streaming service is aware that password sharing happens, and is a significant contributor to its popularity.

“Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with. There’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids, so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is,” noted co-CEO Reed Hastings back in 2016.

Hopefully then, the only motivation for this feature is better security, but we’ll have to wait to see.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.