January 14, 2013, 11:49 AM —
Now that we’ve avoided going over that fiscal cliff (for a while, at least), the geniuses down in Washington have been able to focus their ample brainpower on the real important things affecting our country - like making it easier for you to let all of your Facebook friends know what you’ve been watching on Netflix.
Last Thursday President Obama signed into law an amendment to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). That law, as originally written, made it illegal to share video rental history without the consumer providing consent on a video-by-video basis. It was crafted in response to the release of the videotape rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork while his nomination hearings were being held. Heaven forbid we know that potential Supreme Court members rented (and presumably enjoyed) Ruthless People.
The amendment signed last week, known informally as the “Netflix amendment,” will soon allow you to tell Netflix and other such services that it’s OK to automatically share your viewing history on sites like Facebook, much as you currently can do with songs you listen to on Spotify and images you take with Instagram. Expect such functionality from Netflix sometime in the near future.
Is this a good thing? I say, as long as it’s clearly optional, and easy to opt into or out of, why not? Given all the other information about their personal lives that people choose to share these days, why not make it easy for them to share with the world whatever movies or TV shows they choose to fire up on Netflix, or Amazon Prime or iTunes or Hulu, for that matter, in the privacy of their living rooms, bedrooms or bathrooms? That’s right, we all suspect you like to catch up on 30 Rock on the potty - now we can make it official and stop the denials.