So, first, the bad news. If you watched Black Mirror’s Choose Your Own Adventure episode Bandersnatch, and chose the darkest possible endings every time, then you’re probably on some weird list in Netflix’s head office, and they’re only going to recommend serial killer documentaries to you from now on.
That’s because the streaming service has stored all the data behind people’s choices when watching the episode, which sounds so Black Mirror we’re not even mad.
Michael Veale, a researcher into data protection and data rights, discovered the revelation after he used his GDPR rights to access the data Netflix has gathered on him (something anyone can do, by the way).
Veale details the process on a Twitter thread, and it makes for an interesting read.
Remember everyone quickly speculating whether Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was a data mining experiment. I used my GDPR right of access to find out more. (short thread) #Bandersnatch
— Michael Veale (@mikarv) February 12, 2019
But why are Netflix storing the information on its customers? “They claim they’re doing the processing as it’s ‘necessary’ for performing the contract between me and Netflix,” Veale said. “Is storing that data against my account really ‘necessary’? They clearly haven’t delinked it or anonymised it, as I’ve got access to it long after I watched the show. If you asked me, they should really be using consent (which you should be able to refuse) or legitimate interests (meaning you can object to it) instead.”
Yeah, that’s a pretty fair point. Still, a corporation using an technological entertainment tool to gather your deepest, darkest secrets, while claiming that you signed a contract to allow them to do it – if that doesn’t sound like a Black Mirror episode, we don’t know what does.
Let’s just call it viral marketing and try not to be freaked out when an anonymous box of Sugar Puffs is left on our doorstep tomorrow morning.