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Sharing Your Netflix & HBO Go Passwords Is Now Considered A Federal Crime

Password sharing is a federal crime, rules a U.S. court. This means people who share their Netflix or HBO Go passwords are technically breaking the law ... say, what!?

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that found, in part, that sharing passwords can be grounds for prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). 

The decision, according to a dissenting opinion on the case, risks making millions of people who share passwords into “unwitting federal criminals.” (via: Fortune)

According to Fortune, 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 Though all of their computer access was revoked, they continued to access a Korn/Ferry candidate database, known as Searcher, using the login credentials of Nosal’s former assistant, who was still with the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.

Nosal was eventually charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets, and three computer fraud counts, and was sentenced to prison time, probation, and nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines.

Well, here's the good news for Netflix and HBO Go sharers...

According to MarketWatch, companies like Netflix Inc. and HBO are still all but shrugging off friends, family and significant others using each other’s accounts.

HBO said it didn’t have enough information on the case to comment, and though Netflix declined to comment on the court ruling, a spokeswoman said the company’s position on password sharing hasn’t changed.
Netflix has said in the past that it doesn’t track the number of people sharing account passwords because it’s difficult to do. So the good news is the two companies don’t see password sharing as an issue for them; it can even be a good thing. So right now there’s not much cause for concern.

I say, just keep your password sharing on the QT and the hush-hush. Ya feel me?

[Source: Fortune and MarketWatch]

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