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Senate approves Netflix-backed amendment to video privacy law

With the president's signature, legislation will make it easier for people to share their video-viewing preferences online.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Ready to share your Netflix viewing on Facebook? LG

The U.S. Senate has approved legislation to amend a 1988 law that would make it easier for people to share their video-viewing habits online should the Netflix-backed bill win President Obama's signature.

The Senate approved revisions this evening to the Video Privacy Protection Act to allow video rental companies to obtain consent from customers in order to share information about their viewing preferences on social networks. The 24-year-old law was enacted after a newspaper printed the video rental history of Judge Robert H. Bork during his Supreme Court nomination hearings.

Bork died yesterday at age 85, a day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation.

A Netflix representative applauded the Senate's approval and promised to introduce new products should the president sign the bill.

"We are pleased the Senate has moved quickly to modernize the VPPA, giving consumers more freedom to share with friends when they want," Netflix spokesman Joris Evers said in a statement. "After the president signs the bill, we will introduce social features for our U.S. members in 2013."

Users outside of the United States have the option to link their Netflix accounts with Facebook, allowing them frictionless sharing of their video viewing preferences with other member of their online social network.