netflix password sharing crackdown

This is how Netflix's password sharing crackdown will impact Canada

Rumours of an impending Netflix password-sharing crackdown are scaring and confusing people in Canada this week who may or may not still low-key leech off their parents' accounts despite being grown adults living in separate residences.

Yes, you may be family, but the streaming giant has clarified that it is not in the business of offering up "family plans" like some telecoms do.

If you want to share a password with your mom, dad, brother, sister, ex, cousin and cousin's ex, you all need to live in the same household — and there now appears to be a plan in place for catching users who break this rule.

As first reported by The Streamable, Netflix updated its Help Centre section on Tuesday with new details about its long-rumoured crackdown on the sharing of passwords between users.

Customers were bewildered to learn that devices not connected to one primary location (the household) would need to log in to the Netflix app "at least once every 31 days" on the same Wi-Fi network as that primary location.

Devices that failed to do so would purportedly be "blocked from watching Netflix," according to the help page, raising concerns among legit account owners that they'd be unable to use the service when travelling or simply outside their own homes.

The American streaming giant updated its support page on Wednesday (you can see the old version here) to remove the 31-day clause, replacing it to say that "when a device outside of your household signs in to an account or is used persistently, we may ask you to verify that device before it can be used to watch Netflix or switch your Netflix household."

"Netflix will not automatically charge you if you share your account with someone who doesn't live with you," states Netflix, which purports to detect such behaviour using "information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices signed into the Netflix account."

The company told several news outlets on Wednesday that it had mistakenly rolled out a general help centre article on Tuesday intended only for customers in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, where it has been testing paid password-sharing features since July.

And yet, much of the information included in that article remains in on Netflix's help page for Canadian and American customers, leading many to believe that Tuesday's oopsie was simply a preview of what's to come.

Suffice it to say, they don't like it.

Per Netflix's help centre, people travelling or living between different homes "shouldn't need to verify" their devices to watch Netflix, unless away from their primary household for an extended period.

In this case, the streamer will request verification through a process that does not seem quick or easy, despite what its FAQ states.

"To verify a device, Netflix sends a link to the email address or phone number associated with the primary account owner. The link opens a page with a 4-digit verification code. The code needs to be entered on the device that requested it within 15 minutes," reads the help page.

"If the code expires, you will need to request a new verification code from the device. Once successful, that device can be used to watch Netflix. Device verification may be required periodically."

Some Canadian customers say it's all a bit too much for the quality of content they've been paying for lately...

... and they're not going to hang around once they start getting violation notices for sharing passwords between loved ones in different homes.

We don't know for sure when the company will really start cracking down on Canadian rulebreakers — as in blocking and banning accounts — though it did recently state that it will roll out the password-sharing features it's been testing in other markets more broadly this year.

"Later in Q1, we expect to start rolling out paid sharing more broadly. Today's widespread account sharing (100M+ households) undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as build our business," said Netflix in a Q4 earnings report released earlier this month.

"As we work through this transition – and as some borrowers stop watching either because they don't convert to extra members or full paying accounts – near term engagement, as measured by third parties like Nielsen's The Gauge, could be negatively impacted."

If anything comes of this, Netflix might take heed of all the feedback to its errant information drop — chiefly, that the rules are confusing as heck and that password sharing might be on the uptick on account of the service's frequent price hikes and show cancellations.

"You know, I think Netflix could probably get away with nixxing password sharing if they didn't immediately cancel anything that isn't a mega-hit," wrote one Twitter user, summing up what's been said by many.

"We're password sharing because it's not worth full price to get invested in 12 shows that all get canned after 1 season."

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