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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 01/26/2012

Netflix discusses video privacy act, along with earnings

In its earnings release Wednesday, Netflix highlighted its fight to “modernize and simplify” the Video Privacy Protection Act to allow the company to integrate its services with Facebook in the United States.

Netflix introduced an app on Facebook that will show a users’ friends what movies or television shows they are watching, but this integration has been blocked in the United States for fear it will run afoul of a 1988
law that prohibits video rental stores from sharing customer rental records.

The company threw its support behind an amendment to the law, which would let video service providers obtain “informed, written consent” and obtain that consent over the Internet. That amendment passed the House early last month.

Critics of the measure, including Electronic Privacy Information Center executive director Marc Rotenberg, said that amending the bill would undercut the law’s intention to ensure that people are given the chance to provide meaningful consent to before sharing their video histories.

“Such blanket consent provisions transfer control from the individual user to the company in possession of the data and diminish the control that Netflix customers would have in the use and disclosure of their personal information,” Rotenberg wrote in a December letter to Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) urging the House not to pass its amendment.

As focus moves to Senate debate over the amendment, Netflix general counsel David Hyman has been tapped to testify at next week’s Senate privacy subcommittee hearing on the act, according to a list released by the office of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Wednesday.

The panel has also invited Rotenberg and data privacy law expert William McGeveran to testify at the Jan. 31 hearing.

By  |  11:32 AM ET, 01/26/2012

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