Is it really illegal to share your Netflix password?

illegal to share your Netflix password?
13 July 2016

Have you got a Netflix account, but you don't mind sharing your password with other people because you don't watch it constantly?

Well, some people are looking at making the sharing of a password such as this, illegal. That's not just for Netflix either - it would also count against Spotify, Amazon Prime, Now TV, and the like.

Basically, sharing your password could constitute 'hacking'. Honestly.

Now, this is something that's happening in America, but if this is successful, companies wanting to make some money could well try the same thing in other regions.

Three judges from the US court of appeals have said that sharing your password is now a criminal act under the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act (CFAA).

Even if you give someone permission, the person using it is considered to be a hacker. So it looks like US judges don't trust you when it comes to giving permission at all.

One judge did note that this "threatens to criminalise all sorts of innocuous conduct engaged in daily by ordinary citizens."

So what does this mean for you? Well, the judges who passed this motion had no intention of stopping you from sharing your passwords.

See, this came about because of a case - U.S. v. Nosal - which is basically about a guy called David Nosal, who worked for an executive search firm called Korn/Ferry. He resigned and started a rival firm. In a bid to start his business, Nosal recruited three Korn/Ferry employees to download a bunch of his information on his old work's system. They used their passwords to access his info.

You can see why this might be frowned on, but does it really apply to you letting your partner use your log-in details so they can watch Gilmore Girls?

Sadly, the CFAA has been rather ambiguous about the whole thing, which means some might try and dissuade you from sharing your password with anyone else.

Basically, this is the real rub - things like this are effectively an intellectual exercise, and governments and companies are going to have to use a lot of their resources trying to prove that your password is being used by anyone that isn't you.

That will cost them a lot of money, and a lot of time they could spend generating money in other ways.

So will you get in trouble for sharing your password? The chances of it are slim-to-nothing. Basically, don't worry yourself about it.

TOPICS:   How To Guides   Cool Stuff   Technology

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment