Headed to Obama’s desk at last: Facebook-Netflix sharing legislation

Who says that Congress can’t get anything done? It’s not the budget we were hoping for, but the House and Senate have managed to pass legislation clearing the way for Netflix users to automatically share their movie viewing activity on Facebook. (Insert golf-clap sound effect here.)

Why, exactly, does it take the president’s signature to allow people to post their Netflix activity? The Video Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1988 — after the Washington City Paper published Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s rental history — prohibits video rental services from sharing their customers’ rental activity without their written consent. The amended legislation requires Netflix and similar services to provides a “clear and conspicuous” option to opt out.

The bill was not without controversy, however. Language requiring the government to secure probable-cause warrant to obtain “cloud-based” email was removed from the Senate version of the bill. The fight over warrantless searches will continue, but for now, representatives are declaring the new legislation a victory for consumers. Will they see it the same way?

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