Federal Court Ruling Suggests "No More Sharing of Netflix & Other Passwords!"

Federal Court has ruled that sharing passwords can be grounds for prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CCFAA). Yes, they applied this to the case of the United States v Nosal, but many are wondering how far this idea could go. Many want to know what this means for streaming services including Netflix and HBO Go and even other accounts like bank accounts and Facebook.

The case started when David Nosal, a former employee at Korn Ferry used his former assistant's login information to find information that could help him find new business leads. The court ruled that this violated the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The Court ruled that "sharing passwords to computers or online account "without authorization" by the system owner is a violation of federal law".

That is where it gets tricky and where people start to question how far this could go in the future. Although Judge Stephen Reinhardt did not disagree with the convictions against Nosal, he argued that this "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".

Meaning the daily sharing and use of login information for websites and streaming services. The argument is whether if the account holder giving permission is enough to grant permission or if not, who decides if this is enough. It does not seem likely, at this point, that it will become a punishable offense. Netflix even jokes about people sharing passwords (see the post below). Be sure to tell us what you think!

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