Court Rules That People Who Share Online Passwords Are Violating Federal Law

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2016 | Firm News

U.S. Circuit Court: Violation of Law to Share Netflix Passwords

A United States circuit court recently held that people who share passwords for online Video On Demand (VOD) services such as Netflix and HBO Go are actually violating federal law and could be subject to criminal charges.
Court Says It Is against the Law to Share Online Passwords
The recent case involved David Nosal, who left Korn Ferry and started his own headhunting firm. Nosal later got a former coworker at his old firm to share login info and grant him access to the Korn Ferry database. This action, held the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was a clear violation of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
As a result of the federal court’s ruling, anyone who uses another person’s password to access Netflix, HBO Go, or any other popular online service without authorization from the service provider could be found to be violating federal law. This would potentially affect millions of Americans who share their online passwords. That’s a major reason why Judge Stephen Reinhardt dissented. Reinhardt’s concern is that the federal court’s ruling will make a lot of people who swap passwords “unwitting federal criminals.”
Moreover, said Reinhardt, the court’s ruling could be expanded to include people who share logins on on social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram.
Reinhardt also argued that the court had wrongly concluded “that a person necessarily accesses a computer account ‘without authorization’ if he does so without the permission of the system owner.” In actuality, said the dissenting judge, many people willingly give their passwords and other login info to friends and family because they want the other person to have access.
For more information, check out the article, “Sharing Netflix or HBO Go Password Technically Federal Crime Under 9th Circuit Ruling.”

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