So much for Netflix and chill. For Android users, there will be no more chilling while you have the Netflix app playing, at least if you don’t want the streaming company to think that you’re a lazy couch potato. New reports suggest that Netflix has started tracking “physical activity” for certain Android users, to test how it “can improve video playback quality when a member is on the go.”
Last week a security researcher on Twitter noticed that the Netflix Android app had added a menu asking for permission for physical activity access.
Hey @netflix why does your Android app want physical activity data? pic.twitter.com/Lv0QUL0w9g
— Beto on Shrooms on Security, Shitter of Posts (@BetoOnSecurity) July 27, 2019
This was confirmed by the Next Web, (via Gizmodo) which received a statement from Netflix saying that the tracking was “part of a test to see how [it] can improve video playback quality when a member is on the go.” The feature is reportedly only being tested on some accounts, with no current plans to roll it out on a wider basis. The tracking feature seems to be limited to Android users for now, which may have to do with the Android Q updates that allows app developers to access sensor data or step counts. The developer page describes it as nothing more than to “classify the user’s physical activity, such as walking, biking, or moving in a vehicle.”
With users increasingly watching Netflix on their phones in buses and trains (though hopefully not on bikes!) this activity kind makes sense to track. Perhaps Netflix wants to tweak its algorithms for its more active users — push more fitness documentaries toward them, or something. But that doesn’t stop it from feeling creepy. I already feel judged when my Netflix account asks me “Are you still watching?” I don’t want to know that Netflix is watching me.
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