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Netflix to push warnings to users who share accounts and don't live together

The company isn’t fully cracking down on users yet, but that may be coming in the future

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Photo (c) wutwhanfoto - Getty Images
A special heads-up to everyone who shares their Netflix accounts with friends and relatives: The streaming video service is testing a new policy regarding the sharing of accounts. In the test, a group of customers will get a prompt to sign up for a separate account if they aren’t watching with the actual subscriber.

The message reads: “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” 

It’s important to note that the Netflix police aren’t on the prowl and this isn’t a full-fledged crackdown… yet. But the company has made noise about this before. A Netflix spokesperson told The Streamable that the tests will only be on TV devices and that they are “designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so.”  

The household issue

The company didn’t say if users in the test must all be using the same IP address to be considered in the same “household,” but the company’s terms of use specifically state that an account can only be shared with members of your household. 

“The Netflix service and any content viewed through our service are for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household,” it reads.

Netflix has long had a tight stance on sharing passwords and accounts. "We expect that Netflix is a household level purchase, and that sharing with members of the household is a reasonable thing to do," Neil Hunt, Netflix's Chief Product Manager, told Digital Spy back in 2016. Drilling down on what is and what isn’t a “household,” Hunt gave an example that many families are likely to run into.

"When the kids go off to college, are they going to use that login? Well, that's probably OK, but when the kids go off and form their own household, they want the control of having their own account, so eventually that turns into a new revenue stream for us there as well."

Hunt said that the company expects the service will be shared “within the household,” but admitted that you're unlikely to get a slap on the wrist for pushing the envelope a little.

"I don't think we are obsessed with enforcing compliance with a one-household-per-account constraint. Because, in reality, it's a high-value programme, so that's what people are going to do,” he said.

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