You might have seen the apocalyptic news that Netflix is planning to stop us sharing passwords sprawled across the Internet over the past few days. But don't panic! In what looks like an excellent example of Internet-based Chinese whispers, a comment in a Netflix Q3 Earnings interview has the web ablaze with worry about an imminent and non-existent password-sharing crackdown.
In the interview, available on YouTube, Michael Morris from Guggenheim Securities asked Netflix Chief Product Officer Greg Peters about password sharing. “Another topic that we haven't talked about in a little while is password sharing or stealing or whatever you want to call it. As we get to a more mature growth trajectory in the US, does that come back into being something important for you to address? And how do you address it without, you know, alienating a certain portion of your user base, how do you strike a balance there?”
The reply doesn’t seem to set any alarm bells ringing. “We continue to monitor it, so we're looking at the situation,” Peters told Morris. “And you know, we’re getting those consumer-friendly ways to push on the edges of that, but we've got no big plans to announce at this point in time in terms of doing something differently there!”
Sharing passwords to access streaming content is a bit hazy when it comes to ethics and even legality. In the US, sharing is likely to come under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1984 law that has often been criticized for not having kept up with the times.
Luckily, it's very unlikely that anyone would actually be prosecuted by it. According to Netflix policy, account holders shouldn't be sharing their passwords with anyone, but the higher-ups at Netflix don't seem too worried. At least they weren't in 2016. Back then, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings didn’t care. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"We love people sharing Netflix," Hastings said during the Consumer Electronics Show. "That's a positive thing, not a negative thing."
Hopefully, if you were worried about an imminent crackdown, this will have put your mind at ease. You can check out the interview below.