Netflix announces new rules in password sharing crackdown that could affect 100 million accounts

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Netflix has revealed the details of a password sharing crackdown that it expects could affect up to 100 million accounts.

The company has long been looking to crack down on shared accounts, and has finally revealed how it will check whether people are watching on profiles that are really theirs.

It says that up to 100 million accounts are currently being shared and has claimed that the money lost from people doing so has hurt its ability to invest in new shows.

A new help document on the Netflix site makes clear that for people to have “uninterrupted access to Netflix”, they will have to keep watching something from their home every 31 days. If they don’t do so, they will be forced to ask for temporary codes that will allow them to log in.

“To ensure uninterrupted access to Netflix, connect to the Wi-Fi at your primary location, open the Netflix app or website, and watch something at least once every 31 days. This creates a trusted device so you can watch Netflix, even when you’re away from your primary location,” a new support document, posted on the Netflix help site, reads.

The company has promised that users will be able to keep watching while they are travelling. That appears to be true, but if people are away for an “extended period of time”, they could nonetheless be blocked.

If that happens, people will be asked to “verify their device” to get back online. When that happens, a link will be sent to the primary owner of an account that will give them a four-digit verification code, which must then be put into the device within 15 minutes.

That will happen “periodically” if people are still watching away from home, the company said, though it did not say how often that will be.

It said that it will check whether people are in a given household using “information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices signed into the Netflix account”. It did not give any more specific information on what data it was collecting.

The company confirmed that there will be no extra charges if people share their accounts with people who do not live with them. It appears to be focusing instead on making the process of sharing an account sufficiently frustrating that people will be encouraged to pay for their own account instead, at least initially.

Netflix has been threatening such a crackdown on password sharing for years. Over the last few months, it has been testing it in select companies, and in recent weeks suggested that test was successful and that the new rules would be rolling out early this year.