Netflix explains why it tracks your activity on Android

Brittany A. Roston - Jul 31, 2019, 2:42 pm CDT
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Netflix explains why it tracks your activity on Android

Streaming service Netflix has started requesting physical activity permission for its app on Android, something that came to light after a security researcher tweeted about it. A number of Netflix users have checked the app’s permissions on their phone and were surprised to discover that it was tracking physical activity. This, Netflix says, is a test.

The activity tracking is a test, Netflix told The Next Web, designed to help the company ‘improve video playback quality when a member is on the go.’ Only some Netflix subscribers are included in the test, explaining why not every Android user is seeing the physical activity permission.

At this point in time, Netflix says it doesn’t have any plans to rollout the feature to all of its users, indicating the company may only be interested in the data it is currently gathering. With this permission, the company knows when the user is in motion, such as streaming a video while on a train or bus.

The company didn’t shed any light on how it may use that data to improve on-the-go video playback. Users who don’t want the app to track their physical activity can open Settings > Apps > Netflix > Permissions, then tap ‘Physical activity permission.’ Change the setting from ‘allow’ to ‘deny’ to end the permission.

Netflix regularly runs tests limited to a small number of users and only some of them end of becoming commonly available features across the platform. It’s unclear how long the company plans to run its activity-tracking test.


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