Netflix Gets Congress to Let Them Share User Video HistoryWritten by Michael Levanduski
January 3, 2013 # 9:01 am # Industry News # 2 Comments
With the use of targeting as a primary marketing tool increasing all the time, the obtaining of information that can be used for this targeting has become a necessity across the marketing community. One might say that it is because of this fact that we have been seeing so many issues in the way of privacy violation as well as infringement upon terms of service agreements. Now, in the past week or so, we have already heard of the huge problems that Instagram has faced with privacy term amendments, and then more recently we heard of the privacy issues with Facebook that were brought about by none other than Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi Zuckerberg. Now though, the topic of privacy violation has come about with a rather unlikely name attached to it. Netflix is now working out a way to share user viewing history to the public, which also means to marketers.
This news regarding Netflix’s new privacy workings that are due to come around in 2013 comes from sources like ARS Technica and Mother Jones. The story goes that Congress has made alterations to some of the most important video privacy laws, put in place after a bit of controversy with the nominee of the Supreme Court, Robert Bork, in 1988. The law made sure that video companies could not share any of their rental or viewing history, as it could have ended very badly for Bork had he been watching the wrong things.
Anyway, this law is apparently being amended a bit, for Netflix’s sake. Netflix requested the change, with the intention of allowing the company to share user video history on networks like Facebook, with the users’ permission.
Here is a bit of what Mother Jones writer Adam Serwer had to say about the changes:
Video streaming companies that want to share your data now only need to ask for your permission once. After that, they can broadcast your video-watching habits far and wide for up to two years before having to ask again.
If Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) had his way, Americans would have gotten something in return for this reduction in video privacy rights. The law governing law enforcement’s access to online material, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was written when email was a relatively new technology, well before anyone imagined the amount of personal information the average person could store online. The ECPA makes it a trivial matter for law enforcement to access just about any of your personal data stored in the cloud—even without a warrant.
Now, it would be foolish to believe this change will happen without a fight from the internet using citizens of the country. This change, though it may seem small, is big for Netflix and for marketers. This may provide marketers with yet another sort of point of interest for users, allowing them yet another piece of criteria to use in targeting. However, we can only hope that the backlash is not too immense, because this could be useful in more ways than one.