Are you sharing your Netflix password with family and friends? The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says you are
now could be a criminal. The court found that sharing a password is prosecutable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) possibly making millions into criminals. Sharing a Netflix password is pretty common place these days and Netflix knows it. This is partially why they limit how many streams an account can have at once. But the case the court ruled over had nothing to do with a Netflix password. Rather, it was a fraud case in which David Nosal continued to access a former employers database even though he had left the company.
The decision came in the case of David Nosal, an employee at the executive search (or headhunter) firm Korn/Ferry International. Nosal left the firm in 2004 after being denied a promotion. Though he stayed on for a year as a contractor, he was simultaneously preparing to launch a competing search firm, along with several co-conspirators. Though all of their computer access was revoked, they continued to access a Korn/Ferry candidate database, known as Searcher, using the login credentials of Nosal’s former assistant, who was still with the firm.
Anyone who “knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization” could be prosecuted as a criminal. That is the clause in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that could land Netflix password sharers in court. Judge Stephen Reinhardt disagreed with the ruling stating:
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.”
While no one is being prosecuted for Netflix password sharing, this case could open the door for future cases. What do you think? Should password sharing of any kind be made criminal? Let us know your thoughts and comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.