Senate Passes Netflix-Backed Revision Of Privacy Law, Paving Way For Facebook Sharing

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The U.S. Senate has passed legislation that will make it easier for Netflix users to share what movies they have watched with their Facebook friends. The new legislation has already been approved by the House of Representatives, so it just needs the president’s signature before you start seeing updates about your friends’ Netflix habits popping up in your Facebook newsfeed. Netflix already enables users in more than 40 countries and territories to share the titles of films and TV shows on the social networking site.

The measure is an update to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act, which required each individual’s consent before the titles of movies they have seen could be shared with other people. The original law was passed after the late Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental records were leaked to a newspaper. Though the movies Bork had watched were all innocuous titles like “Citizen Kane,” politicians worried that their penchant for porn and other less highbrow genres would be disclosed pushed the legislation forward. Under the law, a class action lawsuit was filed against Netflix in 2009 over the release of data sets in connection with the Netflix Prize, an open competition for the best collaborative filtering algorithm to predict user ratings for films.