As part of a settlement in a privacy lawsuit filed against Netflix late last year, the video delivery service has called off their $1 million Next Big Thing contest that started the whole problem in the first place.
You might recall that last August Netflix launched their second go-around of their Next Big Thing contest, in which they challenged users to come up with ideas for significantly improving the site’s video recommendation engine, with the winner being awarded the $1 million prize.
To help contestants along, Netflix provided supposedly “anonymized” user data. The info didn’t include names or credit card info, but did give age, gender, zip code and rental history — sufficient info for a clever enough person to match up anonymized data with real accounts.
Once it was proven that it wasn’t impossible to connect the Netflix dots, it all ended up in court, with a closeted lesbian mom leading a class action lawsuit alleging that Netflix’s attempt at crowdsourcing could ultimately lead to the revelation of very private, and potentially harmful, personal information.
Well, today Netflix announced that they’d reach an agreement on the lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission. And as part of the arrangement, they have given up on the current iteration of the Next Big Thing.
“The resolution to both matters involves certain parameters for how we use Netflix data in any future research programs,” wrote the company’s Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt in a statement.