Netflix Confirms It Will Add Social Sharing Features In 2013, Once Obama Signs New Bill

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Netflix has confirmed to Talking Points Memo that it will introduce social sharing features for U.S. users in 2013, following the passage of a bill that will make it easier for users of the on-demand video streaming platform to share what movies they have seen with friends on their social networking accounts. The legislation, passed last week, just needs President Obama’s signature.

The new bill is a update to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), which was passed after the a list of the late Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rentals was leaked to the press. Netflix already enables users in more than 40 countries and territories to share the titles of the films and TV shows on Facebook. Under the new bill, companies like Netflix will have to obtain “informed, written consent” from users (this can be done online) before they can share their viewed videos or recommendations, and allow them to withdraw consent whenever they want on a “video-by-video” basis.

The Talking Points Memo post also noted that the version of the bill that the president will sign does not contain the email privacy add-on suggested by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, which would have required law enforcement officials and government agencies to obtain warrants before viewing user’s stored electronic communications (including emails and Facebook messages). A warrant is currently only necessary when law enforcement agencies want to access communications older than 180 days. Leahy’s bill isn’t expected to be picked up by the full Senate until 2013, in part because lawmakers are currently preoccupied with the fiscal cliff.

Netflix competitor Hulu may also stand to benefit from the changes in legislation. The NBC, Fox and Disney-run video-streaming service has dealt with potential class action lawsuits related to the VPPA.