U.S. Senate Clears Netflix-Backed Update of Privacy Law

by Eric Engleman, Businessweek.com  |  published on December 22, 2012

Privacy Law

The U.S. Senate cleared for the president’s signature legislation backed by Netflix Inc. (NFLX) that would amend a 1988 law to make it easier for users to share their movie-watching habits on Facebook Inc. (FB)’s social network.

The measure, an update to the Video Privacy Protection Act, lets users provide one-time online consent to disclose the titles of the movies they have seen. Current law requires consent each time an individual’s history is shared.

Netflix says the legislation is needed to take advantage of its U.S. partnership with Facebook, operator of the world’s largest social network. The Senate cleared a House-approved version of the measure in a vote tonight in Washington.

The measure, which was passed Dec. 18 by the House, revises a law passed 24 years ago after then-Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video store rental history was published in a Washington newspaper. Bork died Dec. 19 at the age of 85.

Netflix, the world’s largest video-subscription service, last year announced a way for its users to share with friends on Facebook the titles of movies and television shows they’re streaming. The arrangement has taken effect in more than 40 countries and territories where Netflix operates, yet isn’t available in the U.S. because of the 1988 law, according to Netflix.

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