Unborking the Law Would Allow Netflix to Talk to Facebook

Sometimes things need to be unborked.

By Scott McGrew
|  Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011  |  Updated 5:12 PM PDT
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Unborking the Law

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The average Facebook user probably wasn't even alive when Congress passed the Video Privacy Protection Act, a law designed to keep your video rental records secret.  The law, signed by then President Reagan, was inspired by reporters' revelations that then nominee for Supreme Court justice Robert Bork had rented a series of rather mundane movies like "The Man Who Knew Too Much".

Bork's nomination process was arduous and nasty and ultimately Democrats were able to block the judge from joining the Supreme Court.    To be "borked" became a verb in the late 80's.

The reporter in the case said he published a list he obtained at Bork's local video store not to embarrass the judge - there were no embarrassing titles rented - but rather to demonstrate the fragile state of privacy in America.  Congress passed the VPPA quickly, leading some to assume members of congress intent on protecting their own video rental histories.

To be "borked"  became a verb in the late 80's.

The Senate this week will take up a proposal passed by the House to unbork the Video Privacy Protection Act.  Specifically, a rewrite would allow companies like Netflix to get your consent over the web to publish your video rental records.  This would allow Netflix to send updates about what you 're watching to Facebook or Twitter.  "I’m watching #TopGun!"

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center points out the law would allow users to give blanket approval to releasing their records and that "Facebook users have never been particularly happy" about outside companies posting their personal information to their wall.

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