Netflix/Facebook announced a deal last Thursday: an integration feature that would allow users to share their video streaming history with their friends.
While the Facebook sharing feature will soon be available in about 44 countries, the U.S. won't be one of them.
Why? Standing in Netflix's way is a pesky 1998 law called the Video Privacy Protection Act that prohibits disclosure of video rental information without explicit consent.
It comes as little surprise that the video streaming company is now lobbying to change the law.
It's not that the Video Privacy Protection Act makes it impossible for consumers to share video rental information. But, the law does mandate a rental-by-rental consent, a requirement that may be cumbersome for social media savvy users.
Netflix's suggestion is for congress to "update" the legislation, allowing users to grant ongoing consent to share their video rental information.
Is this a good idea? Or, is it simply legislation that Netflix is "buying" with its $200,000 worth of congressional lobbying?
Your opinion on the subject probably depends on your view of Internet privacy.
The Video Rental Protection Act provides great security for consumers. It is arguably a bit out of date, though. It was passed in 1988, when technology such as streaming videos weren't even on the radar.
At the same time, rental-by-rental consent does make sense. After all, does anybody really want to accidentally publish on Facebook that they're currently streaming episodes of "Power Rangers Jungle Fury"? Unless you have kids at home, that might be difficult to live down.
It seems that the most important consideration is whether or not consumers want a fully integrated Netflix and Facebook relationship. If consumers truly desire to be able to share their video streaming information with their friends without consenting each time, it may be time for the law to catch up.
- Netflix pairs with Facebook, except in U.S. (Washington Post)
- Is Netflix Enforcing One Streaming Movie at Time? (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Netflix Sued for "Borking" Consumers (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Netflix Price Increase Angers Users: NBCU Contract Extended (FindLaw's Common Law)