By Joe Mullin Ars Technica
Congress tweaks US video-privacy law so Netflix can get on Facebook
Finally, you can share your dubious viewing habits with anyone who will listen.
It looks like Netflix will finally manage to get the small change to US privacy law that it’s been seeking for nearly two years now. Last night, the Senate passed a reform to the Video Privacy Protection Act, or VPPA, that Netflix says it needs in order to integrate its services with Facebook.
Right now, the VPPA stops anyone’s movie-rental history from being disclosed without specific written consent. Netflix expressed to its shareholders back in July 2011 [PDF] that the VPPA made it “ambiguous” how it could get consent from US users to allow a sharing function on Facebook. Given that online privacy has been a growing area of litigation in the past few years, the concern was warranted.
The reform bill that just passed, H.R. 6671, should clear up Netflix’s concerns as well as those of other streaming-video providers that want to reach out to your inner over-sharer. It also shows the contours of what a Netflix sharing function, on Facebook or otherwise, might look like. The bill makes clear that: 1) consent for sharing video-watching history can be granted over the Internet; and 2) consent can be given for a whole period of time, up to two years, and doesn’t need to be given every time sharing happens. It also specifies that the disclosure has to be in a “distinct” form. In other words, don’t put it in the fine print. Consumers will be allowed to withdraw consent for sharing when they want to, on a case-by-case basis, or altogether. READ MORE
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