December 27, 2012, 8:30 AM —
Isn't it weird that when you watch something you enjoy on Netflix (and are in the US), you have to go to some kind of third party service like GetGlue to share your discovery with your friends? That's because of a 1988 law called the Video Privacy Protection Act . This law prevents video rental companies from sharing your rental history even if you say it's OK for them to do so.
The law came to be after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video store rental history was shared in a news publication, according to an article at VentureBeat from last February, but it doesn't make much sense today, particularly with the clause that says that even if I want to allow Netflix to share my rental history, the company can't legally do so.
The good news is that the law has now been amended, with a bill passed by Congress just before they headed home for the holidays. Now it's a matter of the president signing it, after which Netflix users will be able to opt-in to sharing their data.
Netflix told TalkingPointsMemo that it plans to offer social features "in 2013, after the president signs" the bill. That's a fairly vague timeline but Netflix offers Facebook integration in other countries which would lead one to believe it won't be a huge job to enable that same integration in the US. Hopefully the company plans to integrate with other social networks as well.
I'm pretty excited about this development since I have a few friends who are always telling me about shows they've found on Netflix. Now I can just follow their Netflix feed to get this info automatically. In a perfect world I'd be able to add titles that interest me to my Netflix Instant Queue right from a friend's feed.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's see how long it takes to get the bill signed, and how much effort Netflix wants to put into social. For now I guess we wait...
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.