Dear Netflix I Am Frugal Not A Criminal. I Don’t Want Jail Time For Sharing My Password.

Netflix is NOT on a witch hunt looking to prosecute those who share their passwords, but a recent court ruling has now made sharing passwords illegal regardless.

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I’ve been fighting the urge to  write a ‘Dear John’ letter to My Netflix account. I love Netflix so much but it just might be more trouble than it’s worth now that sharing is no longer caring. As of July 5, 2016 sharing your  Netflix password is now a federal crime.

In this  day and age of streaming  television and movies I’d never waste my  money again on cable. Back when  I had cable I couldn’t get over how many days I would sit clicking through channel after channel, furious that the same shows and movies were always on. For all the money I paid the  variety sucked. I had to flip through  boring channel after uninteresting channel that I’d never watch but still was forced to pay for.

Sci-fi ewww, sports no thank you, the international  channel yea right

Netflix and Hulu have been God sends. Watch what you want when you want, feast on whole seasons of shows at once, new shows added regularly, yes! Want to put a friend on to a new show, give them your Netflix password if they don’t have one and tell them to check it out.

What more can you ask for? To not be labeled a criminal  while doing so for one. Be aware however Netflix is NOT on a  witch hunt  looking to prosecute those who share their passwords, but a recent court ruling has now made sharing passwords illegal regardless. In a recent court ruling a judge found that it is a federal crime to access a company’s system through someone else access code.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled that sharing online passwords is a crime worthy of prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt  acknowledged that the ruling could have an impact on Netflix and Hulu customers as well as other similar companies. Being as though the  case in front of the court stemmed from  a shared password being used to steal intellectual  property from a company, not services, it’s wide reaching repercussions were not expected.

“The majority does not provide, nor do I see, a workable line which separates the consensual password sharing in this case from the consensual password sharing of millions of legitimate account holders,” Judge  Reinhardt writes in the official  decision  released  by the panel of judges.

“I would hold that consensual password sharing is not the kind of ‘hacking’ covered by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” Reinhardt further added.

The ambiguity of the full extent of the repercussion of password sharing was addressed by the majority deciding judge.

“We are mindful of the examples noted in Nosal I — and reiterated by Nosal and various amici — that ill-defined terms may capture arguably innocuous conduct, such as password sharing among friends and family, inadvertently “mak[ing] criminals of large groups of people who would have little reason to suspect they are committing a federal crime.” Nosal I, 676 F.3d at 859. But the circumstance here — former employees whose computer access was categorically revoked and who surreptitiously accessed data owned by their former employer — bears little resemblance to asking a spouse to log in to an email account to print a boarding pass. The charges at issue in this appeal do not stem from the ambiguous language of Nosal I — “exceeds authorized access” — but instead relate to a common, unambiguous term. The reality is that facts and context matter in applying the term “without authorization.””  Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in her opinion.

In the past Netflix  has  been pretty lax about people sharing passwords.

“We love people sharing Netflix whether they’re two people on a couch or 10 people on a couch. That’s a positive thing, not a negative thing,” Hastings told reporters. He went on to say, “As kids move on in their life, they like to have control of their life, and as they have an income, we see them separately subscribe. It really hasn’t been a problem.” Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said in  January.

My best friend and I share everything, including our streaming services. One of us pays for Hulu and the  other  pays for Netflix and we share both.I have a spotless record, the only time I’ve ever seen the inside of a  jail is  15 years ago when I worked in  one. It’s terrifying to think that one day I could be sitting on the  couch on some Netflix and  chill type behavior and  officers, warrant in hand, appear saying I committed a felony.

While Netflix  is  not against us  sharing our passwords it sure would be nice, in light of  the recent  court ruling, to  reword their terms of service. It would be nice to add a clause that our password can be shared with a certain amount of people, friends and family or something that  will  keep up from malicious prosecution in the future.

I’m far from a criminal, I am frugal but  my frugality will mean nothing if I have to pay bail and lawyer fees eventually.