Technology

Sharing Your Netflix Password Could Be Considered A Federal Crime

It starts with your parents. They sign up for Netflix so they can watch episodes of Property Brothers whenever they want. Then you ask for the password, and start making your way through Friday Night Lights. Then you share the account information with a roommate, so she can finally finish House of Cards. Before long, a friend of a friend of a friend is using your mom and dad’s Netflix to marathon Family Guy, and everything has gone to hell.

That may no longer be an issue.

Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sharing online passwords could be considered a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Things got this far thanks to David Nosal, a former employee of search firm Korn/Ferry who “used the password of a person still with the company to download information from Korn/Ferry’s database for use at [his] new firm,” according to Fusion. Nosal was charged with hacking.

But how does this relate to you watching Jessica Jones? That part’s a little unclear. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act’s language is vague enough that, technically, anyone who gives away their streaming service passwords is considered complicit, and “if they wanted to, Netflix could go after users.” That’s what worries dissenting judge Stephen Reinhardt. He pointed out that “this case is about password sharing. People frequently share their passwords, notwithstanding the fact that websites and employers have policies prohibiting it. In my view, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act does not make the millions of people who engage in this ubiquitous, useful, and generally harmless conduct into unwitting federal criminals.”

Letting your friend use your Netflix shouldn’t be a crime. Unless they’re watching The Ridiculous 6. Then lock them in prison, and throw away the key.

(via Fusion)

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