Netflix Kicks Off Password-Sharing Crackdown With New Rules That Are Real Gentle and Easy to Follow ... Unless You Live in Costa Rica, Chile or Peru
The rules are pretty mellow Stateside right now, but judging by Netflix's radically different FAQs for its Latin American testing region, that will change real quick
If Netflix's password-sharing crackdown in the U.S. eventually evolves into anything like its current iterations in Latin America, the region where the new account-sharing policies are being developed and tested, things could get real real quick.
Reading through a Netflix FAQ page (opens in new tab) that was published on Wednesday for the U.S. market, Netflix makes it real clear that it wants users of a single account to all reside in an individual household.
As it already has in Peru, Chile and Costa Rica, Netflix is expected to implement in the U.S. in the coming few months "extra member" policies that charge accounts extra for those streaming on them regularly outside the home.
And for the most part, at least until Netflix implements those policies Stateside, the rules outlined in the new FAQ are pretty gentle and straightforward.
Basically, someone can use a phone, tablet, computer, streaming device or smart TV to stream Netflix via an IP address that's not identified by the streaming company as the primary one of the household. However, Netflix must now first "verify" the device before it can be used to stream the service.
The primary account holder will get an email or text with a link in it. Clicking on that link renders a four-digit code. The user of the outside-the-home device trying to connect will then have 15 minutes to punch the code into their device.
Netflix's language for the U.S. FAQ is nice and gentle. While it encourages account sharers not living with the account holder to buy their own, the company adds that, "Netflix will not automatically charge you if you share your account with someone who doesn’t live with you."
And don't worry about traveling, either.
As Netflix also tracks the device IDs of the gadgets its users typically use in the home, streaming Netflix via your mobile device while you travel to, say, Costa Rica shouldn't be an issue. Even if you're there for an extended period of time, Netflix can just initiate the aforementioned device verification protocol.
Things are much different for Netflix users if they live in Costa Rica.
Netflix-subscribing denizens of this Central American nation -- like Chile and Peru, where account sharing policies have been tested by Netflix -- are now subject to new extra-member rules that require account holders to pay a few bucks extra each month for users not living with them, or block their devices from using their account.
There is no device verification protocol. And there is no gentle language saying it's all OK if you decide to taunt Happy Fun Ball and not abide by these rules.
"If you want to share Netflix with someone who doesn't live with you, you can add an extra member (opens in new tab) to your account," reads Netflix's sternly stated FAQ for Costa Rica (opens in new tab).
Meanwhile, also in those regions in which extra-member policies have already been implemented, devices are only "trusted" and useable if they periodically "check in" with the home of the account (i.e. stream using the primary IP address). There's a whole bunch of language about device blocking in these particular iterations of the Netflix rulebook.
Netflix said during its Q1 earnings report that 100 million of its homes share passwords, a factor that "undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as build our business."
The extra-member policy, the company said, will be implemented in the U.S. in the coming months.
We've been warned.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!