On December 18, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6671, a bill that would amend the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) consent requirements for disclosing consumers’ viewing information. The Senate approved the bill without changes on December 20, 2012. The bill would make it easier for companies to develop innovative technologies for the sharing of consumers’ video viewing habits. The current version of the VPPA requires certain video providers to obtain a consumer’s consent each time they wish to share the consumer’s viewing information, with few exceptions. The amendment would allow video providers to obtain consumers’ consent by electronic means “in advance for a set period of time, not to exceed 2 years” to share their viewing information. The video providers also must allow consumers to withdraw their consent on a case-by-case basis. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.
Netflix, the most prominent supporter of the bill, applauded its passage. Netflix previously had backed similar proposals to amend the VPPA.