New details are emerging about how exactly Netflix is planning to enforce its much publicized and universally despised crackdown on password sharing. In essence, unless you check in at your primary home address, you will be locked out.
For now, the information can be viewed via the help center for Netflix Costa Rica, the country where tests of combating password sharing began last year and where the campaign is live already.
However, the crackdown is expected to reach the US and Canada in March and it will be rolled out worldwide after that. Presumably, the explanations shared with Costa Ricans will be similar in other parts of the planet.
Check in and don’t worry
The guidance states that all Netflix accounts will need to set its primary location – this will be done via the “Get Help” section of their account settings. The said location in turn will be linked to a home Wi-Fi network and the devices connected to it.
To make sure Netflix doesn’t smell anything fishy and is sure that all devices are only connected to the primary location like the company insists, users will have to check in at the home address via the designated Wi-Fi network.
Checking in in this case will mean simply watching something through your Netflix app or website every 31 days.
“To ensure that your devices are associated with your primary location, connect to the Wi-Fi at your primary location, open the Netflix app or website, and watch something at least once every 31 days,” the company says on its support page.”
The point of all this is for Netflix to be as able as they can to see who is sharing their account and thus breaking the rules, and who is merely traveling or staying in a second home.
Netflix has long stated accounts cannot be shared with people who don’t live at the primary location. The firm claims that devices that are not part of the user’s primary location may be blocked from watching Netflix.
“If you want to share Netflix with someone who doesn't live with you, you can add an extra member to your account,” the guidance helpfully adds. It’s not official yet but adding extra members will probably cost $3 a month each.
In theory, if you are using, for example, your parent’s Netflix account, you could visit them every month with your laptop or tablet at hand, log onto their Wi-Fi and watch something on the streaming app.
A complicated mess
However, practice, not theory, is what Netflix is betting on. If you’re, say, in Arizona, and your parents live in New York, flying over there every month is simply illogical – it’s much easier and cheaper to just fork out $3 and skip that coffee.
Netflix also provides advice to travelers. If you’re traveling, you can request a temporary code to give you access to Netflix for seven consecutive days.
But some trips are way longer – what then? Yes, you can probably switch on Netflix on the device you’re bringing at your primary location right before leaving – this will win you a month. But, again, what if you travel all summer, for example?
“If you will be away from your primary location for over 31 days, we will no longer recognize your device as a trusted device and you may be blocked from watching on your Netflix account,” Netflix says.
The firm also advises the traveler to update their primary location – as if that’s possible when you’re, for instance, hitchhiking through the entire continent.
In short, it’s a bit of a cumbersome mess. To top it off, Netflix says you will need to contact the company directly to get your device unblocked – and no one in their right mind would call interactions with customer service agents at the larger companies smooth.
It seems that Netflix is really getting ready to annoy you into submission. Maybe it will really be easier to just pay up for the extra members or create your own accounts. Netflix has already launched “Profile Transfer" in October 2022 – a new feature that allows freeloaders using shared accounts to export their personal data to a brand-new account.
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