Popular video streaming service Netflix could be about to begin a clampdown on password sharing after it began testing a new policy.

The Streamable first reported that some Netflix users began to receive messages prompting them to sign up for their own account if they aren’t watching with the subscriber.

The issue of sharing Netflix passwords with friends and family has been ongoing for years now. Indeed, research firm Magid has reportedly found that 33 percent of all Netflix users share their password with at least one other person.

Password crackdown

But now according to the Streamable, Netflix has begun testing users only on TV devices at the moment, with the user being confronted with the following message.

“If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching,” the message states. “In order to continue, they need to verify the account with a E-mail or Text Code, or create a new account with a 30-Day Free Trial.”

Netflix’s plans in the UK range from £5.99 to £13.99 per month, to allow users to watch Netflix on two screens at the same time.

Netflix itself said the test was to ensure people were authorised to access certain accounts.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Streamable.

It isn’t clear if users in the test all need to be on the same IP address to be considered in the same household.

VPN concerns

It should be remembered that in 2015 there was concern that Netflix was clamping down on the use of VPNs with its service, so people could bypass geographic content restrictions.

Netflix at the time rejected those “false” reports, and denied it had stepped up its efforts to block access via VPNs, and was caving into pressure from Hollywood and TV studios over geographic licensing issues.

But it admitted that its existing policy against the use of VPNs to circumvent geographical content barriers remained unchanged, and that certain named VPNs are blocked because of licensing issues.

Essentially Netflix does not allow users to use services (i.e. VPNs) that can bypass geo-restrictions.

And the streaming service has the right to ban an account, but there are no cases reported of such activity.

Netflix currently has approximately 200 million global subscribers, but its shares have underperformed and it is facing increasing competition from the likes of Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max etc.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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