Netflix wants to track smartphone users’ ‘physical activity’ in new test

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Netflix is asking users if it can track their devices’ physical activity information, according to users on Twitter and a report by The Next Web‘s Ivan Mehta.

The permissio request, was first noticed by security researcher @BetoOnSecurity late last week. This was then corroborated by Mehta.

Beto included a screenshot (above), which details the permission request.

It’s a pretty strange request from an app you’ll predominantly use while standing or sitting still. And considering that users are now hyperconscious of their online security and privacy, especially in light of Facebook’s troubles, it seems a curious permission from Netflix.

But it has reasons, apparently.

Netflix wants to improve your experience

TNW gained comment from the streaming company, stating that it’s “continually testing ways to give our members a better experience”. This ws part of a test to see how we can improve video playback quality when a member is on the go,” Netflix added in the statement.

It’s not clear how the company intends to do this using movement data, or why it would need to when features like Smart Downloads — which lets you download episodes or movies in the background when WiFi is available — exists.

Netflix is asking some users on Android if it can track their ‘physical activity’

At present, Netflix requests permissions for “phone”, “microphone”, and “storage” — none of which are absolutely required to be activated.

In the statement, Netflix also claimed that it currently has no “plans to roll it out” and that only “some accounts” will notice the change. We’ve also performed a sweep of Twitter and Reddit, but can’t find any other user who’ve encountered this request at the time of writing.

The streaming service is facing a waning popularity stint, after a record number of US users dropped their subscriptions in the previous quarter. It’s a problem that the company usually solves by throwing millions into its Originals, but perhaps it’s considering a more tactful approach to improving user experience judging by this test.

Feature image: Memeburn

Andy Walker
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