Some people may have noticed that Netflix released a new terms of service this week. When users logged onto their account, they were greeted with a message that essentially said, “agree or get lost.” I was going to put off reading the fantastic bit of literature, but thought I might as well sift through it to see what the changes were all about.
Of course, I found the typical garbage like agreeing to arbitration (your case has to be seen by a likely-biased mediator not a judge,) allowing your account to be terminated for any (or no) reason, agreeing that your personal information can be used for advertising, agreeing to your personal information being sold without notification, and Netflix absolving itself of liability should your personal information be stollen. The latest addition of their terms includes a segment specific to using your location to recommend you titles (and ads.) After agreeing to the terms (it wouldn’t let me watch anything without doing so) I started to browse my suggested videos. Turns out they are already using that location data to recommend me titles! I was recommended a number of ESPN videos related to the Buffalo Bills and hockey. Go figure!
I suppose this isn’t the greatest invasion of privacy, but I do think it’s interesting to see why a company decides to change their terms of service and to speculate as to what they plan to do with their new found powers or information. It seems as though they may have also beefed up their section on advertising. I probably wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to try having ads in their platform. The long-term strategy is more likely to be that of an exclusive TV channel type service. Most existing TV channels already have their own platform for a stand-alone streaming solution and are only being held back by existing contracts and business models. I suspect that in the near future you will see more stand-alone streaming services with exclusive content requiring multiple memberships to access all the TV and movie content currently available on Netflix.