updated 03:33 pm EST, Wed December 26, 2012
Social features made possible with bill passage
Next year will see popular movie streaming service Netflix bringing greater integration with services such as Facebook and Twitter, according to company representatives. The streaming service will roll out these features after a recently passed bill -- which removes barriers keeping Netflix from integrating its service with social networks -- is expected to receive a signature from President Barack Obama. Netflix customers in Canada and Latin America have been able to link the service to their Facebook accounts since 2011, but next year will mark the first time US customers are able to do so.
At issue was a 1998 law -- the Video Privacy Protection Act -- prohibiting companies from giving out personally identifiable information, such as rental history, on customers. Companies in violation of the law were liable to lawsuits. Netflix, then, under the letter of the law, would be prohibited from sharing its users' viewing histories in conjunction with their personally identifying social networking accounts. Rival service Hulu has allowed users to tie their accounts to Facebook profiles, but Hulu is currently fighting litigation on just that manner.
The House and Senate recently amended the VPPAA, requiring companies to obtain "informed, written consent" for sharing information. Customers can also, according to TalkingPointsMemo's Idea Lab, withdraw their consent for for such information sharing at any time or on a case-by-case basis.