Shout out to all the streaming platform criminals.
According to a recent court ruling, sharing your Netflix password is a federal crime. In an opinion issued by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 5, 2016, it says that sharing passwords to your streaming platforms like Netflix and HBOGo is a crime prosecutable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The decision came into light thanks to the case of David Nosal, a former employee at the headhunter search firm Korn/Ferry International. In 2004, Nosal left the firm in 2004 after being denied a promotion. He stayed on with the company for a year as a contractor all while preparing to launch a competing search firm, along with several co-conspirators.
According to Fortune, despite Nosal and his accomplices having their computer access was revoked, they used Nosel’s former assistant’s — who was still with the company — login to access Korn/Ferry’s candidate database, known as Searcher
Nosal was charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets and three counts under CFAA. He was sentenced to prison, probation, and nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines.
Where Nosal and Netflix password sharing come into play is that his conviction was under CFAA hinged on a clause that criminalizes anyone who “knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization”.
One of the Ninth Circuit judges, Stephen Reinhardt, took no issue with Nosal’s convictions on trade secrets violations, he said the new decision also makes “consensual password sharing” a prosecutable offense.
Reinhardt noted that the decision “loses sight of the anti-hacking purpose of the CFAA, and . . . threatens to criminalize all sorts of innocuous conduct engaged in daily by ordinary citizens.”
Which means anyone that has a Netflix password that isn’t there’s could be prosecuted.