A password for Netflix can be a precious thing that’s offered to a girlfriend, close friend or gifted from a family member.

But for UK company Synamedia, a password like that is a password to be hunted down.

At CES this year, the firm unveiled a new service that uses machine learning to spot shared passwords.

It works like this: a streaming service buys access to Synamedia’s platform, which analyses data from all its users.

It looks at a range of factors, like where an account is being accessed from, what time it’s used, what content is being watched and by what device, and so on. It then looks for patterns that indicate a shared password, and it gives the service provider a probability score — a guess at how certain the system is that it’s found an infringer.

So if you happen to find yourself banned from your favourite streaming service down the line you now know why.

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