It's easy to have the best intentions with Netflix. You fill your instant queue up with gritty documentaries and high brow Oscar winners like the King's Speech. Maybe you even add a few of those French Cerebral Thrillers with a Strong Female Lead and/or Dog that they keep recommending, but, in the end, all you really use the service for is to rewatch the same old episodes of Skins or Gossip Girl again and again. And as you should. Netflix, with all of its options, ought to be a place for you to quietly indulge your tastes — no matter how shitty those tastes may be — away from prying and judgmental eyes of others. Too bad it no longer is.
Last Tuesday, following a vote so quiet that it wasn't even recorded, the Senate made key alterations to the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), which is the bill that requires specific written consent prior to the release of anyone's movie rental history (but maybe you know that from watching all those episodes of Law & Order: SVU...on Netflix). Since enacted in 1988, the bill requires that video rental companies get your permission each and every time they want to share any of your information, only now, after some heavy lobbying by Netflix and other media companies and unanimous consent by the Senate, video streaming companies can share your viewing history with whoever they like for up to two years after asking your permission (this request, more than likely, will be worked into Netflix's terms of services).
Netflix has been pushing for the bill in order to integrate their services with Facebook and "allow" users to share what they're watching. So congratulations — you've always wanted to know whether or not that annoying girl who you studied abroad with in college is still obsessively into How I Met Your Mother and guess what? She is!
Congress Says Netflix Can Share What You're Watching [Mother Jones]