Emu Devine
Head Copy Editor

Longtime lover of poor decisions, Netflix is back at it again with oppressive and greedy business practices.

As of last week, Netflix users across the world have reported pop-up screens while signing in prompting them to verify their account through a code or create a personal one. This is being taken as the beginning of a crackdown on password sharing: the common practice of letting other people inside or outside of their family use your account. While Netflix hasn’t done much to stop this in years passed, it has long bemoaned the practice, with claims the company can lose out on about $9,000,000 a month. 

So far, this new enforcement policy has been pretty las-a-faire, however. The only things users have reported is a new screen when signing in requesting they confirm they own or are the owner’s family by entering a code texted or emailed to them, creating their own account, or skipping the page for later. While this doesn’t seem heavy-handed or a big deal at first, many are worried this will lead to more authoritarian policy from the world’s biggest streaming service. Netflix itself reports that it tests this feature on a few select hundred users a year, but the surge in reports has users worried that this may lead to something bigger, and throw out potentially millions of loyal consumers.

CNBC reports that approximately one third of all Netflix users share their account with at least one other person, and other polls show more than half of all subscribers would cancel their accounts if a ban on sharing passwords were made permanent. It should be said, however, that these statistics are of unknown accuracy — with a taboo topic that these businesses wrongly accuse as piracy, it’s unclear how honest respondents were. This argument also falls apart when one considers all tiers of Netflix accounts limit the number of devices it can be used on, preventing unlimited sharing.

Netflix itself hasn’t stated that this experiment has any relation to friends sharing passwords; instead, they claim this is a new method of two-factor authentication being rolled out to protect privacy and security of account users. However, most don’t buy this, and if this is a way to end password sharing, it raises a major concern. Account sharing is allowed by family members through current Netflix policy, and implicitly would be the only kind allowed after this change. What constitutes a family, though? How can a faceless corporation possibly create an all-encompassing definition of family, and how in the world would they be able to accurately enforce that without excluding people?

There are way too many problems and moral issues with Netflix’s stance on this. It’s pompous and greedy to act as if they’re automatically entitled to money they don’t get through password sharing. They have to earn their revenue, not coerce their way into getting it. In addition, in an ever-changing and progressive world, who are they to say what a family is and what it isn’t when it comes to accounts?

Even if you don’t find those flaws in their logic convincing, just remember, streaming services are our modern-day equivalent of the popularity of TV decades ago. You would never agree to pay for every member in your household and friend group just to watch your TV, would you? If this keeps up, they can’t be surprised when people leave in waves to more welcoming platforms such as Disney+ or Hulu.

Featured Photo Courtesy of CardMapr / Unsplash

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