Danielle Citron writes:
The video rental business is among a few sectors of the U.S. economy with strong federal limits on the collection and sharing of consumer data. Under the Video Privacy Protection Act, which was passed in 1988, “video tape service providers” generally are not permitted to share a consumer’s video usage information without “the informed, written consent of the consumer given at the time the disclosure is sought.” VPPA also prohibits companies from retaining personal information beyond the period prompting its initial collection. Companies like Blockbuster ran afoul of VPPA by sharing its users’ rental information with social network contacts, without their consent, and by retaining personal information, including credit card numbers, of users who canceled their accounts. In September, Facebook began making it easier for millions of U.S. customers to effortlessly share, via a new timeline, more of their online activities, such as the music they’re enjoying and the articles they’re reading. Left off the timeline: the details of the movies they’re renting–due to VPPA’s requirement that consumers explicitly consent at the time of disclosure. Thus began Netflix’s renewed lobbying efforts to amend VPPA, so that Facebook users could automatically share their Netflix rental activity without requiring their rental-by-rental consent.
Those efforts have begun to pay off.
Read more on Concurring Opinions.