Netflix considering an end to password sharing

Sarah Lahiri shares their thoughts on Netflix's controversial stance against sharing passwords

Sarah Lahiri
22nd March 2021
Credit: Openclipart
Earlier this week, Netflix announced that they are proposing a crackdown on password sharing between people who live in different households and naturally, people have got riled up.

In a limited test, Netflix is asking account owners to verify their eligibility to use the account by entering a two-factor authentication code when logging in. Users have started seeing a prompt to get the code emailed or texted to the owner of the account, which needs to be entered to continue watching. This is being done to verify the ‘ethical’ usage of accounts and to limit the security issues that arise with unauthorised password sharing.

The Netflix Vs. The World Documentary is becoming more poignant every day... Credit: IMDb

Owing to the pandemic, boosting user subscriptions and maintaining long-term viewership is becoming increasingly difficult and the crackdown on password sharing is one way to make sure people are paying, and getting what they pay for.

Although presented as an altruistic cybersecurity concern, it is difficult to look past the clear greed. Given the lack of competition and continued global status as the largest online streamer, Netflix has little incentive to worry about the influence of freeloaders on their sales. It still has the demand for exclusive content and easy binge-watching experiences irrespective of who is sharing their password and should be considered a win-win.

Netflix is only pushing its users away

However, the extent of freeloaders costs the company millions and with the popularity of other streaming services catching up, the password crackdown is also justified in increasing their financial standing. They have ignored the issue of password sharing in the past, but the numbers have surpassed the initial intent. They may still be winning, but by much less.

Despite only being a trial, there still are loopholes around them. It is not a fool proof way to avoid account sharing, as it only adds another step to cross check credentials and get the code from your account beneficiary. It does avoid strangers breaking in, but for the most of us, is just an extra step to huff and puff at.

Superficial inconveniences aside, this comes as a genuine issue for those who cannot afford a subscription. Netflix has also recently announced a price hike, and there is no sign of costs reducing in the future. Raising prices for an audience that is primarily young adults that are not always financially stable enough to splurge on pricey entertainment, is unwise and unfair. With rising prices and forceful means to limit any way around this, Netflix is only pushing users away to cheaper services. We all want to watch Bridgerton, but not this badly.

Bridgerton may be good, but perhaps not more-than-£13.99-a-month good, Credit: IMDb

Additionally, the issue of tech giants overstepping is becoming increasingly alarming. With Whatsapp and Facebook constantly facing backlash for this, Netflix is seemingly beginning to tread the same turbulent waters. With users paying for a subscription, what they do or who they share their details with comes at their own individual expense, and trying to dictate the terms of this cannot be expected to be received well.

There is no guarantee that this proposal will go through, or if Netflix will come up with other ways to clamp down on security issues. In the meantime, fingers crossed that we can return to our standard binge-watching routines soon.  

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