ACLU warns bill would gut video privacy law

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 17:27 EDT
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DVDs from Netflix. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
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The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday expressed its concern with proposed changes to the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), which would allow companies to gain perpetual consent to sharing their customers’ video rental records.

At a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law hearing on Tuesday lawmakers debated changes to the law, which requires companies to ask for consent every time they disclose records.

Netflix and other Internet-based companies would like to see the law changed so that they could share their customers’ rental history with social media sites and other third-parties.

But the ACLU said in a letter (PDF) that changing the law would “reduce consumer control over a sensitive category of personal information.”

The group warned that curtailing the law would bypass key protections against law enforcement access to personal rental records.

Although law enforcement would still be restricted from obtaining records from rental companies, the restrictions would not apply to third party services, like Facebook.

“Given this fact, and given that sites like Facebook are routinely monitored by law enforcement, the unintended consequence of this legislation will be to give much greater access to this class of records than was intended by Congress when the statute was drafted.”

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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