Students frustrated by new Netflix password-sharing policy


If you are a student that uses Netflix and keeps up with current events, you may have noticed that the streaming platform put out some controversial new policies. In an update on their website, Netflix informed its customers that accounts would only be able to access its services from one location. Under the new policy, subscribers would have to indicate a primary location — anyone they’ve shared their password with would be logged out. The idea was to crack down on password sharing, but the policy disproportionately impacts students.

According to a 2017 study in the United States, 92 per cent of students reported they have access to Netflix, while only 34 per cent had their own account. This statistic also applies to students in Canada, many of whom view and follow the same TV shows and films as their American counterparts. Many students don’t have their own Netflix account and share one with family and friends. Netflix’s new policy will prevent students who share an account with family from accessing the service. 

Students are already struggling financially. The cost of living has increased in Canada and students are some of the hardest hit groups when it comes to rising inflation. Therefore, when streaming services like Netflix start changing policies and make it more challenging to share across locations, it becomes a concern for students.

Netflix has acknowledged how its service will function for those travelling. According to its website, Netflix says users will be able to access the service outside of the primary location, if the user connects to the primary location every month. Netflix fails to recognize that students may live far from home or are simply unable to travel back every month. 

I have spoken directly with friends and other students at the University of Waterloo who have expressed concerns about this as well, specifically the trend that this may cause among other streaming services. If Netflix can implement these policy changes and increase its profit, it may be an incentive for other platforms to also implement these policies. This would be a problem because many students don’t have the disposable income to pay for these services and must rely on family.

While Netflix may justify its actions to make up for lost revenue, it is creating uncertainty for a generation of students that I believe will remember this in the future.