Obama Signs Amended VPPA Into Law: Netflix Users Can Now Share Viewing History On Facebook

    January 10, 2013

In 2012, Netflix spent the year battling a decades old law that said its users couldn’t share what their viewing history on Facebook or social networks. The company started lobbying Congress and its efforts finally paid off with a bill that passed both the House and the Senate. Now the bill is officially signed into law.

The Hill reports that an updated Video Privacy Protection Act has been signed by President Obama. The updated law allows users of video services like Netflix to share what they’re watching on social networking services. Now Netflix can bask in the joy of creating Facebook apps that have the potential to drive adoption of its services even more.

The new VPPA is an update to a bill that was crafted in 1988 after Supreme Court Justice nominee Robert Bork’s videotape rental history was published by the Washington City Paper. It was deemed a massive invasion of privacy, and Congress enacted the VPPA to ban the sharing of any video history without the written consent of the consumer in question.

Of course, you may be concerned about any privacy implications in the new VPPA. Worry not as the bill has two important clauses that should keep your dirty laundry out of the public eye if you so wish. First and foremost, the rental company in question, in this case Netflix, must give users a “clear and conspicuous” option to stop sharing their viewing history. Furthermore, a consumer’s consent to sharing will automatically expire after 24 months unless they renew it.

All in all, this updated bill sounds pretty good. In fact, the only downside is that Sen. Patrick Leahy’s attached legislation that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant when snooping through email was removed from the VPPA in the Senate. But hey, why should you care about warrantless surveillance when you can be showing your friends how many movies you watch on Netflix?