News: The ruling is expected to impact popular streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go.
A US appeals court has ruled the sharing of passwords to be illegal, declaring the act a federal crime.
The case involved a man who the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says acted without authorisation when he used a former co-worker’s login for accessing computer data owned by the former employer.
Citing one dissenting judge, BBC reported that the decision has severe legal implications for the wider sharing of passwords.
This is not the first time such a case has come to court. In 2004, David Nosal reportedly used password of an ex-colleague to gain access to his former recruitment company Korn/Ferry.
Nosal, who used the data in his new firm, was charged in 2008 with hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFFA). He was convicted in 2013.
The latest ruling is expected to play a key role in the judgment of similar future cases in the US.
Judge Reinhardt, who disagreed with the majority ruling, said the case was about password sharing and in his view "the CFAA does not make the millions of people who engage in this ubiquitous, useful, and generally harmless conduct into unwitting federal criminals.
He said: "The majority does not provide, nor do I see, a workable line which separates the consensual password sharing in this case from the consensual password sharing of millions of legitimate account holders, which may also be contrary to the policies of system owners.
"There simply is no limiting principle in the majority's world of lawful and unlawful password sharing.”