The test run of Netflix's password crackdown isn't going well

The test run of Netflix’s password crackdown isn’t going well

Netflix

Netflix
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Everyone get your tiny violins ready, we have some bad news for Netflix that we feel really, really bad about. Really. We feel sooo bad for Netflix. We’re holding back tears over here, screaming to the heavens about how Netflix doesn’t deserve to be punished and how too many bad things happen to the perfectly nice streaming services that never do anything wrong. Not ever!

But yeah, the bad news: The test run of Netflix’s new system for cracking down on people who are sharing their passwordcurrently happening in Costa Rica, Chile, and Peru, is not going well. Super sad, right?! Apparently, the core issue is one of 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… predictably vague and limiting.

Apparently, the official Netflix stance is that a household is “exclusively people a subscriber lives with” and not a subscriber’s immediate family. This comes from Rest Of World, which says that the National Institute For The Defense Of Free Competition And The Protection Of Intellectual Property believes this could be taken as “a way of discriminating against users arbitrarily.” Basically, the idea seems to be that a Netflix account would be tied to a physical location, which just sets up a lot of questions that Netflix doesn’t seem to have solved—like what if you move, or you’re on vacation, or your child goes off to school?

Rest Of World Spoke to “more than a dozen” Netflix subscribers in Peru who said that they were confused about the new rules and that Netflix wasn’t even enforcing them, with an anonymous customer service rep saying they were told that, if a customer calls and complains , they should be given a special verification code that will let them use their account in multiple locations. So even Netflix doesn’t seem particularly concerned with 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 gives a shit about screwing over customers. Seeing as how we’re even talking about an anti-sharing crackdown in the first place, it seems pretty obvious just how much Netflix cares.

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