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Senate Passes Amended Video Privacy Protection Act

21 Dec, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix spokesperson says SVOD service expects to implement social media features domestically in 2013

The United States Senate has passed a bill giving consumers the right to share their video rental viewing habits on social media sites such as Facebook.

The Senate late Dec. 20 approved by unanimous decision a previously passed House of Representatives motion (H.R. 6671) removing obstacles from the Video Privacy Protection Act for videotape service providers to facilitate sharing on social media networks of the video content watched or recommended by users.

H.R. 6671 must now be signed by President Obama to go into effect.

The passage is major win for Netflix, which has lobbied for more than a year to enable subscribers to voluntarily share their viewing data on Facebook. CEO Reed Hastings, who is a member of Facebook’s board, has long argued the merits of “frictionless sharing” of favorite movies and TV shows via social media. The bill would also enable Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Blockbuster and the pending Redbox Instant by Verizon to facilitate subscriber rental viewing histories online.

Netflix and Facebook currently enable streaming subscribers outside the U.S. to share video viewing habits.

“We are pleased the Senate has moved quickly to modernize the VPPA, giving consumers more freedom to share with friends when they want. After the President signs the bill, we will introduce social features for our U.S. members in 2013,” Netflix spokesperson Joris Evers said in an email.

The VPPA of 1988 was established following the contentious Supreme Court confirmation process for federal judge Robert Bork in which his video-rental history was made public without his consent. Bork, whose nomination was denied, died Dec. 19 at the age of 85.

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