Enjoy your crime dramas on Netflix? Well if you’re dishing out your Netflix password to others, then you’re currently living one
A ruling from a court in California means that if you’re using someone else’s password to log onto the streaming giant then you’re committing a federal crime under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The decision by an appeal court in California was upheld by a two of three judges on the panel, concerning a former employee of a headhunting company, who shared passwords to their database after leaving to set up his own rival firm.
The ruling was that sharing passwords without the permission of the system owner is a crime.
“Unwitting federal criminals”
The one judge who went against the majority ruling, Stephen Reinhardt, wrote that he hoped this would not result in millions of on-demand video sharers becoming ‘unwitting criminals’:
“In my view, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) does not make the millions of people who engage in this ubiquitous, useful, and generally harmless conduct into unwitting federal criminals.”
So far, sites such as Amazon Prime and Netflix have kept a fairly hands off attitude to password sharing, with the latter even offering different user accounts on the same login.
But next time you log in to a loved one’s account, to enjoy the gangland escapades of Pablo Escobar in Narcos or the meth empire of Walter White in Breaking Bad – just remember, you’re one of the bad guys now…