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Netflix's password sharing clampdown reaches the UK

UPDATE: Netflix clarifies new rules.

Red Netflix logo on black background
Image credit: Netflix

UPDATE 24/5/23: Netflix has contacted Eurogamer to clarify certain parts of the original article (now struck through) are "no longer applicable".

The streaming service initially posted new account sharing rules to its Help Centre in February, saying it would soon require all devices to connect to a home Wi-Fi network every 31 days to continue using an account. However, amid a significant backlash, it deleted those changes, claiming they were "only applicable to Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru". Its wording was vague, however, and it remained unclear if those plans had been permanently shelved, with the company only acknowledging there had "been a lot of confusion about sharing Netflix."

Now that its planned account sharing crackdown has reached the UK, the streaming service has updated its rules to make reference to a "Netflix Household" (formerly "primarily location"), defined as a "collection of the devices connected to the internet at the main place you watch Netflix." It says anyone outside this household will need to sign up for their own account or be added to an existing account for an additional £4.99 a month.

Confusion remains, however, with the streaming service still yet to clarify if, in the absence of a regular sign-in requirement, these rules will be actively enforced or if a subscriber will penalised in any fashion for sharing their Netflix account/password with another household. I've contacted the company for further information.

UPDATE#2: Netflix says "an account holder will not be penalised" for sharing their account/password under its new rules.

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ORIGINAL STORY 23/5/23: Netflix's clampdown on subscribers sharing accounts between households has reached the UK, with the streaming service now charging an additional £4.99 a month for any user not predominantly based in an account's "Netflix Household".

Netflix has been threatening a crackdown on password sharing as a means of shoring up is stagnating subscriber numbers for some time now, and it began rolling out a related series of measures built around the notion of a designated "primary location" in February, albeit initially only in a limited number of countries.

Since then, Netflix's measures have continued to spread around the globe, and, as of today, are live in the UK. The streaming service says it has started emailing members that share their accounts with users outside their household, telling them they'll need to cough up an additional £4.99 a month if they want to continue doing so.

As it previously detailed, Netflix considers a household to exist in a single "primary location" - either set manually by an account holder on their TV or as determined by the streaming service - and all household devices must watch something while connected to Wi-Fi there "at least once every 31 days". Any devices not regularly connected at an account's primary location - Netflix will be snooping IP addresses and device IDs to check - risk being blocked from access.

Netflix also previously outlined a convoluted set of steps users would need to follow if they wanted to use a device not recently registered on a household Wi-Fi system or that had been blocked, essentially requiring the main account holder to request a temporary 7-day access code they'd then need to pass on to the affected user - but the streaming service's not especially helpful Help Centre doesn't appear to have much to say on that process right now.

In January, Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters said the company expected some "cancel reaction" to its anti-account sharing changes, admitting it would "not be a universally popular move".

Those wishing to cancel their subscription after today's changes can do so via this link.

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