Netflix Facebook App Would Be Legal In US

Netflix General Counsel David Hyman testifies to a US Senate committee

Netflix’s top lawyer tries to convince a US Senate committee that laws need to be changed so it can offer a video sharing app on Facebook. Netflix General Counsel David Hyman told the Senate judiciary subcommittee on privacy that the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) had “ambiguities” preventing it from offering a Facebook video sharing act.

“We have been offering our members outside the United States the opportunity to share and discover movies with their friends on the Facebook platform.” Hyman says there are more than a half-million Netflix subscribers outside of the United States that use their Facebook app.

Committee chair Senator Al Franken (DFL- Minnesota) asked University of Minnesota Law Professor William McGeveran if current US law prevents Netflix from having a Facebook app in the U.S. McGeveran said no.

“The statute requires (consumer) consent every time….that can be done simply by saying here’s a button to press when you play the movie, because presumably you have to press a button to play the movie, and right next to it here’s a button to both play and share. You can post, you just have to be asked every time you see a movie. Online that seems relatively easy to effectuate.”

Simpler for corporations not better for consumers says Senator Leahy

The US House recently passed a bill that would simplify the Video Privacy Act and make it more to Netflix, Facebook, Google and other online corporations liking. However, Senator Patrick Leahy (D- Vermont) told the hearing:

“Recently some companies that dominate various aspects of cyberspace have announced that they want to simplify matters, so they can more easily track American’s activities across the board. Obviously to their own financial benefit.

“I worry that sometimes what is simpler for corporate purposes is not better for consumers. It might be simpler for some if we had no privacy protections, we had no anti-trust protections, we had no consumer protections. It’d be simpler for some but it certainly wouldn’t be better for Americans.”

“A one-time check off has the effect of an all-time surrender of privacy. Doesn’t seem like the best course for consumers. I worry that the availability of vast stores of information via corporate databanks also makes this readily available to the government, which has almost unfettered power to obtain information with administrative subpoena and so-called National Security Letters. So I think we need that comprehensive reform.”

Full video of the Senate judiciary subcommittee on privacy hearing on video privacy

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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