U.S. House Passes Bill To Simplify Sharing Between Facebook, Netflix

By Justin Lafferty 

Because of a law passed in 1988, U.S. Facebook users have been unable to share their Netflix viewing data — much like they do for Spotify or other applications that utilize open graph technology. However, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation recently to change this, allowing video-rental companies to get consent from their customers to share their preferences online.

Previously, the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) prevented the sharing of information related to video-rental history without a customer’s written consent. While Facebook users in countries outside of the U.S. can seamlessly connect their Facebook profiles to Netflix, the VPPA stopped Americans from doing so. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives tweaked the VPPA to allow for social sharing, so long as video-rental companies such as Netflix and Blockbuster get consent from users.

Don’t expect a Facebook login button on your Netflix screen just yet, as the bill will be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration in the next few weeks.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who sponsored the bill, discussed how the change in technology since 1988 necessitated this alteration:

With today’s technology, consumers can quickly and efficiently access video programming through a variety of platforms, including through Internet-protocol-based video services, all without leaving their homes. This bill updates the VPPA to allow videotape service providers to facilitate the sharing on social media networks of the movies watched or recommended by users.

Goodlatte noted that the bill still allows user to keep their privacy, giving them control over what they share. It will require companies like Netflix to give customers a clearly stated option to share their content. Consent also expires after two years, when customers can again choose whether to opt in again.

Readers: Would you connect Netflix to your Facebook account?