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Netflix promises “social sharing” for users in 2013

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Soon, all your Facebook friends will able to see how much you love Parks and Recreation. Pending an official go-ahead from President Obama, Netflix will unveil “social features” to its more than 25 million U.S. users in 2013.

In a statement issued to Talking Points Memo today, an unnamed Netflix spokesperson stated that the streaming media company plans on moving forward with plans to allow users to share their streaming habits with friends via social media. The statement follows a bill passed by the Senate last week that would allow just that.

“We are pleased that the Senate moved so quickly after the House,” the spokesperson wrote. “We plan to introduce social features for our US members in 2013, after the president signs it.”

While Netflix subscribers abroad have long been able to share their streaming habits via Facebook, stateside customers haven’t had the same luxury thanks to the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988. The law makes it illegal to share viewing habits without written consent, and was passed after then-Supreme Court hopeful Robert Bork’s video rental history was leaked to the press. While that law still holds for physical content, Netflix has been lobbying hard for Congress to relax the language of the bill to make the sharing of digital content easier. Netflix has increasingly strengthened its ties to Facebook, and social sharing has been implemented for Netflix users in other countries, but the now former law has held them back stateside. While the law is outdated and originally written for very different times, you should be aware of what information will be making its way to Facebook, and start paying attention to your Netflix privacy settings. 

The Senate bill, known as the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendment Act, is meant to revise the original VPPA to make that kind of sharing possible. Netflix also won a victory in the House after House representatives passed H.R. 6671 earlier last week to achieve the same end, though without provisions for email privacy. Unless President Obama, for some reason, vetoes the bill, things are looking good for Netflix.


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