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Netflix Bill to Allow Facebook Sharing Approved by House Panel

The Netflix/Facebook bill has won a preliminary battle.

Netflix's bill, backed by Facebook, has cleared the House Judiciary Committee.

What exactly is the bill about? The bill was introduced in order to ease the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), passed in 1987. The act protects the privacy of video rental customers.

This decades-old law puts a damper on Netflix and Facebook's plans to integrate their services. Netflix recently announced plans to allow users to share their streaming history with their Facebook friends. But doing so could violate the VPPA.

It's unclear if the VPPA would specifically prohibit sharing of viewing history with Facebook friends. Risking penalties, however, would be financially dangerous for the company. If the VPPA does apply, consumers could sue. Which would end up costing the companies a whole lot of cash: each violation can amount to $2,500 in damages.

Would the Netflix/Facebook bill create privacy loopholes? It probably depends on how Netflix plans to roll out the integration if the VPPA is relaxed.

Consumers may not want all their Facebook friends to have instant access to all their viewing history. Making it so that consumers have a level of control over what they share might make it less intrusive. The streaming site might also want to consider making it clear to subscribers how to opt out of sharing.

Of course, all of this would only come into play if the bill is actually passed.

Will it? It does seem to have some powerful backers. Besides Netflix and Facebook, Bloomberg reports the bill also received support from Google.

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