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Netflix Is Tracking Some Users' Physical Activity: Here's Why

(Image credit: William Potter/Shutterstock)

Is Netflix trying to gauge how lazy its subscribers are? Possibly. The popular streaming service has been quietly tracking some users' physical activity, a Twitter user found last week. 

@BetoOnSecurity noticed that Netflix's Android app requested access to their physical activity data, which includes motion detection and movement information created by senors found within an Android smartphone

A reporter from The Next Web checked their Pixel 3 XL for the request message and found "the permission turned on without any prior prompt." Sneaky, Netflix. Sneaky.

"We are continually testing ways to give our members a better experience," Netflix told TNW.  "This was part of a test to see how we can improve video playback quality when a member is on the go."

Netflix added that only some accounts using Android devices are in the test. 

It seems Netflix is using a new activity recognition permission on Android Q, which allows developers to see whether you're in motion while engaging with their apps. What Netflix plans to do with the data is unclear, but its possible the company is working towards limiting streams from skipping when users are out and about. And it's unlikely the company is making its own fitness tracker.

Like any other tech company, Netflix routinely tests features with select consumers. Some eventually find their way into the product and become available to all users, while others get disposed of and rejected.

Anyway, don't feel bad if you haven't moved from your couch in six hours catching up on the best shows on Netflix this month. We know we haven't.