Many users may be shocked to learn that video streaming service Netflix has never shared a users video preferences via their Facebook feeds or Twitter accounts because of a law that was enacted in the 1980’s. That law, known as the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act essentially made it illegal to share a persons video purchases or rentals without their consent.

The bill came into effect when good old fashioned Americans rented their adult videos from a local video rental shop or adult book store. Worried that embarrassing information could get out Congress passed the VPPA which in turn made it illegal to share a persons video purchase history.

Netflix And 1988 Privacy Bill

Of course back in 1988 Congress wasn’t thinking about a cool new platform called “The Internet” so they didn’t add any wording that could protect the new multimedia medium and its content delivery capabilities.

The privacy act has been unique to the United States ever since 1988, in fact Netflix already shares user information in 40 countries and territories, allowing movie and TV show titles to appear in a users social networking profiles.

Earlier this week the House of Representatives passed new Netflix-backed legislation to ease the wording of the bill and ultimately to allow Netflix to share user information. The Senate was expected to vote in a few weeks but obviously felt that the bill was ready for approval ahead of schedule.

The Video Privacy Protection Act was an overreaction to the late Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental records being leaked to a newspaper in which it was revealed he watched Citizen Cane (gasp?).

While Netflix will now begin sharing movie and TV titles on Facebook and through other social networks, other company’s were already ignoring the VPAA including Hulu. The popular TV show and movie portal has been integrating Facebook sharing and Twitter use pretty much since it debuted.


[Image via Netflix]