Obama signs Netflix-backed amendment to video privacy law

Legislation allows video rental companies to obtain customer consent to share information about their viewing preferences online.

Ready to share your Netflix viewing on Facebook? LG

President Obama signed Netflix-backed legislation today that makes it easier for people to share their video-viewing habits online.

With his signature on H.R. 6671, Obama approved an amendment to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act that allows video rental companies to obtain customer consent to share information about their viewing preferences on social networks such as Facebook. The law was enacted after a weekly newspaper printed the video rental history of Judge Robert H. Bork during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

The House bill is similar to a proposal approved last November by the Senate Judiciary Committee, minus language inserted by Sen. Patrick Leahy that would have required police to obtain search warrants before accessing files stored in the cloud, including e-mail. However, Leahy later withdrew the controversial proposal.

Netflix, which had argued that the 25-year-old law was outdated and due for an overhaul, has said it plans to introduce social features for subscribers this year, although a Netflix representative told CNET that it was too early to discuss specifics. Netflix users outside the United States already have the option to link their accounts with Facebook, allowing them frictionless sharing of their video viewing preferences with other member of their online social network.

About the author

Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.

 

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