Update:08/02/2019: Netflix confirmed to the Verge the test is over. However, you’ll notice that your device will have the physical activity tracker turned on. Additionally, Netflix did not say if they’ll remove the data they collected.
The original story to follow:
Some Android users are finding that Netflix is tracking their physical activity data on their smartphone.
Twitter user Beto on Security first discovered this.
In a statement to The Next Web, Netflix said tracking physical activity “was part of a test to see how we can improve video playback quality when a member is on the go.” The company went on to say that the feature is only active on some accounts and that it currently doesn’t plan to conduct a widespread rollout.
Netflix may only be asking for access to physical activity data on devices with the Android Q beta. In our office, we checked a Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Pixel 3 XL running Android Pie. In both instances, Netlfix didn’t have access to physical activity data. However, we also checked a Pixel 2 XL that’s running Android Q. It had the Physical activity permission as soon as we downloaded the app. Users have to turn off the permission if they don’t want Netflix to track their physical activity.
Reportedly, the company may be using Android Q’s new activity recognition permission. The API tells developers if individuals are using their app while on the move. It also classifies activities such as walking and biking or if they’re in a moving vehicle.
This feature relies on a device’s built-in sensors, including its accelerometer and gyroscope.
It’s currently unclear how Netflix will use this technology. But it might be to see what you’re doing with the app when you’re on the move.