It starts with you signing up for a Netflix account. Then you realize that your parents live a sad and uneventful life and decide to share you account with them so they can watch some of their favorite shows or old movies. Next you have a roommate who stays in for the night and you are nice and share your account with them. Then a sibling calls and asks for access to your account. This all used to be fun and games. That is until the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made it a crime to do so, but you probably don’t have to worry too much about it.

The TL: DR version of the story is that a former employee of a big consulting firm used a former co-worker’s password to access the company’s network to access a bunch of important information. They then used that information for their current employer (who is a competitor) and took advantage of it resulting in millions in damages. In the end, the person was found guilty of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). And with that came the conclusion that sharing your password for anything is a crime in which you can be prosecuted.

Now before you begin throwing a fit and exclaiming that the government is out to get everyone, there’s a couple of things you need to know. The most important thing is that you will, most likely, not be prosecuted for sharing your Netflix password. While a majority of the judges may have found the defendant above guilty of a crime, the same judges also understood that millions of people share their passwords because of services like Netflix or HBOGo. It makes them “unwitting federal criminals.”

Another point to consider is the intent in the situation. If your intent is to exploit and defraud a company like Netflix, then maybe you’re a criminal. But if you’re just trying to help a roommate out or give your parents something else to watch on a Sunday night, then you can go to bed and sleep easily knowing you’re going to be okay. On a final note, think of this like Jaywalking. It’s completely illegal and you can get a ticket for it. But is it enforced? No because there are more important things to worry about.

Oh and to the person who actually pays for their Netflix account. Thanks.

netflix mvp
Source: Forbes

Category: Nerd Culture