Netflix explains why it tracks your activity on Android

Posted August 03, 2019

Twitter user Beto on Security noticed last week that the Netflix app had requested permission to access physical activity data on his phone.

Remember how Netflix can conduct all sorts of odd tests to research ways it can improve its service? When contacted, Netflix admitted that this was part of a test they were doing "to give our members a better experience". Netflix confirmed that it's collecting physical activity data as a part of a test. The feature is reportedly only being tested on some accounts, with no current plans to roll it out on a wider basis.

The streaming platform's Android application includes various mobile-centric features which aim to improve the streaming experience on smartphones. But it's possible that some do watch their favorite TV shows or movies while on the treadmill or the stationary bike, which Android Q will supposedly be able to detect with the physical activity permission. I mean, anyone is going to freak out if they find Netflix knows when they're walking or running, right? 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.

Now, a report published by The Next Web confirms that Netflix is indeed requesting access to physical activity sensors on certain Android devices to help it improve video quality depending on the user's activity. Netflix could use the data to monetise the service in other ways.

Alternately, this could be a "throwback" to Netflix's little known fitness tracker.