There’s no sign yet whether any streaming services will want to employ the new technology. pixinoo/Shutterstock
Netflix freeloaders and Amazon Prime parasites, the jig is up.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 this week, a UK startup flaunted an AI-driven tool that allows streaming platforms to get finer insights into their users' account behavior. Its chief aim is to allow media-service providers – such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc – to detect whether their users are sharing passwords with more people than they should.
Synamedia have developed “Credentials Sharing Insight” to pick up on unusual or extreme patterns on streaming service accounts, hoping to sniff out people sharing their passwords.
In addition humans are notoriously bad at remembering random strings of letters and numbers, so we either write it down (which is a very bad idea for a password) or we make it easy to remember. A more secure password would be at least 20 characters long (95^20) and would equate to 10.24 decillion possible different passwords.
Using machine learning, it will be able to decipher whether certain patterns of logging in are legitimate or the result of sneaky behavior. For example, it will notice if two different households are clearly unrelated, such as different tastes and geographical location, yet are still sharing a password. However, it will also be able to work out if the freak log-ins are fair game, such as the user being on holiday or whether they have shared passwords with a family member who lives away from home.
One survey found that 26 percent of millennials use the password from someone else’s account to watch shows on an online streaming service. Some would argue this is just a push towards a “sharing economy”, but this could mean media companies are losing out on billions of dollars.
"Casual credentials sharing is becoming too expensive to ignore. Our new solution gives operators the ability to take action," Jean Marc Racine, chief product officer of Synamedia, said in a statement . “Many casual users will be happy to pay an additional fee for a premium, shared service with a greater number of concurrent users. It's a great way to keep honest people honest while benefiting from an incremental revenue stream.”
Hold your horses, though, there’s no need to worry just yet. There’s no sign of whether or not any streaming services will want to employ the new technology. For many, password sharing is a no-hassle method of introducing their services to new customers. Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings has previously expressed no concern over the issue, noting that it’s part of what makes streaming services so desirable.
"We love people sharing Netflix," company CEO Reed Hastings told the crowd at CES 2017. "That's a positive thing, not a negative thing."
That said, Sky UK invested a heap of cash into Synamedia on January 8 just after the development was revealed...