There aren’t a whole lot of issues that every American is willing to stop screaming at each other and just agree about at this point, but we can think of at least one that we’re pretty sure most people would be happy to see enshrined in the U.S. Constitution: The idea—nay, the principle—that it’s a god-damn, god-given right for every person on the planet to share (and make use of) their friends and family’s various collection of streaming service passwords. After all, what’s even the point of having an interconnected web of supportive human relationships, if not to serve as an easy way to get access to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, right?
Netflix has always been mostly cool about password sharing, both because it’s just plain good marketing to seem like a chill, “If you’re going to party, we’d rather you do it in the house” kind of parent about this stuff, and also because nobody wants, you know, an armed riot breaking out in their corporate offices, just because little Becky went off to college and now she can’t watch Orange Is The New Black. But as more and more companies sluggishly follow the leader into the streaming market—most notably Disney, that bastion of cheerful cartoon totalitarianism—the question of what to do about password moochers is becoming an increasingly profitable one for brown-nosing, teacher’s pet-type innovators to try to crack.
Enter the digital narcs of Britain’s Synamedia, who are pioneering new A.I. techniques in order to totally fuck up your queue. Per Variety, the company is headed to the Consumer Electronics Show next week to show off its “Credentials Sharing Insight” tech, which reportedly tracks data like “people on the same account streaming from across the continent,” or “people streaming for 24 hours straight” in order to issue scores suggesting how likely someone is to be sharing their passwords with others. (In the latter case, they might want to refine that metric, at least when a new season of BoJack comes out.)
The company’s chief product officer, Jean-Marc Racine, was quick to point out that it’s up to the companies themselves to figure out what to do with these online communists/password sharing freedom fighters—who one report suggests might cost the industry something like $9 billion in upcoming years—once they’ve found them. It might not even be punitive, he cheerfully noted, suggesting that it might be a way for corporations to ID people to upsell more shit to (hooray!), or merely cut off some of the service’s most popular content.
Racine then presumably had to cut the interview short, so that he could rush off to spend more time with his most beloved hobby, reporting people’s expired parking meters to cops.