CES 2019: A New Service is Using AI to Find Password Sharers

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Password sharing is a thing. There’s no denying that. Whether it’s a college campus or family and friends, services like Netflix, Hulu, and others have their content shared all the time.

Right out of the gate, that’s not a bad thing. Companies love to have people viewing their content, and it gets word of mouth out there. However, there’s a point where a company reaches a certain maturity level and watching its content get pirated just doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s where a company called Synamedia, which is based out of the United Kingdom, comes in.

The Verge has a profile of the company out of CES 2019, and how it will be using artificial intelligence to track down people who share passwords and then share that information with the companies. Synamedia has a platform that companies can buy, which will then be used to analyze data from that company’s user base. From there, Synamedia will be able to see when an account is being accessed, from which location, the content being watched, and more. It will break down that information to find a pattern, which could then indicate that a password is being shared.

Synamedia will then give a probability score, which will show how confident the system is that an account’s password is being shared.

“A typical pattern would be you have a subscriber that is simultaneously watching content on the East Coast and West Coast of the US,” Synamedia’s CTO, Jean-Marc Racine, tells The Verge. “That’s unlikely to be the same person.”

What happens next is up to the company. In some cases, the most extreme ones, the company would have the ability to shut down the account altogether. In others, where a password might be distributed amongst family members for instance, the company may simply send a hint to the account owner that they should have the others upgrade to their own accounts.

It turns out that Synamedia’s services, based on AI and machine learning, are in high demand right now. While the company won’t divulge which companies are trying out this current platform, it did confirm that it has sold its other services to the likes of Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sky, Comcast, and Disney.

This was always going to happen eventually. Password sharing may not seem like a big deal, but that really comes down to how many people are sharing that password. In a one-on-one situation I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, because maybe that other person simply can’t afford their own $10+ monthly subscription. But when you look at some instances, where the service can be accessed by a lot more people from one password, well, it starts to get a bit dicey.

I’m a firm believer that people should pay for the stuff they love, especially if they want more to it. I’ve had to cancel some services to have access to others, but more often than not I’ll just stop subscribing to something, like Showtime for instance, when the show(s) I want to watch are on their typical break. Once the show returns I’ll resubscribe.

Have you ever used a shared password for a streaming service?

[via The Verge]