On December 6, 2011, the House of Representatives approved legislation (H.R. 2471) authored by Rep. Goodlatte that would amend the consumer consent provisions of the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”). The VPPA, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 2710, restricts the disclosure of information that identifies a person’s request or receipt of specific video materials or services from a “video tape service provider,” including both sales and rental providers of videos and “similar audio visual materials.” A video tape service provider may only disclose such information in certain circumstances, including with the “informed, written consent” of the consumer.

H.R. 2471 would amend the VPPA to specify that such consumer consent can be obtained (1) via the Internet and (2) in advance of the release, either for a set period of time or until the consent is withdrawn. Such advance consent would be an alternative to, not a replacement for, the current VPPA rule that consent must be obtained at the time of the disclosure.

The VPPA also permits the disclosure of consumers’ names, addresses, and the subject matter of the video materials for marketing purposes if the video tape service provider has given consumers the opportunity to opt out of the disclosure. H.R. 2471 would not affect this exception.

As amended by the House Judiciary Committee, H.R. 2471 would also require the consent request to be presented to the consumer separately from any other terms. Over 100 members of the House, mostly Democrats, opposed the legislation. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.