Netflix is moving closer to offering its subscribers in the U.S. the ability to share through the service what movies or TV shows they watched on social media sites like Facebook. The Judiciary Committee voted today on a House bill that would update the Video Privacy Protection Act, a decades-old bill that prohibits the disclosure of video rentals without written permission for each one.
The committee took up the update along with amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require law enforcement to obtain warrants for email searches.
Changing the VPPA has been a top priority for Netflix, which developed and launched everywhere except the U.S. a feature that allows its subscribers to automatically share their viewing preferences on Facebook.
Though U.S. Internet users can share their book or music lists on Facebook, they can't share their video choices because of the 1988 law, passed in the age of video tape rentals.
"We have to update our privacy laws if we want to keep pace with advancing technologies," chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said during the mark-up of the bills.
The Senate version of the House bill, worked out between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Netflix, allows consumers to opt-in to video sharing for two-year periods.
"We're pleased that the committee acted. We've had the feature in every market we'ved opened in and it's pretty popular. It's a nice option to have," said a Netflix spokesman.
With the fiscal cliff looming, however, chances are low that the update to the VPPA will make it to the floor until next year.