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Uh oh, it may soon be impossible to share your Netflix account

We’ve all probably been guilty of sharing our Netflix password with a friend or family member because it’s, you know, economical. But also… it’s not strictly legal.

And UK company Synamedia is on to you. The firm recently unveiled a new service that is designed to hunt down shared passwords, and it’s already being trialed by a number of companies (although Synamedia aren’t telling us which ones).

They currently sell other services to big networks such as Comcast, Disney, and Sky, so it’s not unlikely that they’ll also be making use of this new tech.

So how does it work?

A streaming service will buy access to Synamedia’s platform, which then takes data from the service’s users and scrutinises it for things such as:

  •  where an account is being accessed from (and if it’s from several places from halfway around the country),
  • the times it is being used,
  • what content is being watched from what devices

After analysing the data Synamedia will provide the service with a probability score indicating how certain they are that a shared password is being used.

Synamedia’s Chief Technology Officer, Jean-Marc Racine, told The Verge:

“A typical pattern would be you have a subscriber that is simultaneously watching content on the East Coast and West Coast of the US. That’s unlikely to be the same person.”

Once given this information, the service provider will choose what to do. In cases that show extreme sharing patterns (suggesting that the credentials have been sold to multiple users), they can shut down the account.

However, for less serious cases where it’s obvious that a password is being shared between a friend or two, “the approach is that people tend to be not too punitive about it.”

Most likely the users will receive an email nudging them to upgrade to a premium account. Service providers will use the situation to “up-sell services instead.”

Ipad and laptop

Sharing your Netflix password with your mates might just be a thing of the past. (Image: William Iven)

This AI technology makes tracking shared passwords far easier than in the past. By using a machine that can adapt to shifts in consumption patterns, hard-coded algorithms that have to be updated manually can become a thing of the past.

Synamedia’s service heralds the beginning of a new era in the way we use streaming services. In the past, businesses were far less concerned about password sharing as it was a handy way to introduce their product to new users.

Now, however, “there is a growing concern about piracy and companies want to ensure they’re maximising their revenue,” Racine said.

Finally, Racine has a word of advice for those wanting to escape the all-seeing eye of this new tech:

“Well, I would say, you know, if you enjoy the content, you should pay for it. Then you have nothing to worry about.”

Fair enough.

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