Netflix Blacks Out the Revolution
Thursday, 20 December 2012 15:05
By Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks, The Daily Take | Op-Ed
You might want to think twice about streaming that “subversive” documentary about the Weather Underground on Netflix. If Republicans have their way, you just might end up on a watch list somewhere.
This week, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the 1988 Video Protection Privacy Act, which forbids movie rental companies from sharing or selling their customers’ viewing history. The Senate is expected to take up the amendment soon.
If this passes, what you watch on Netflix may soon become public information that your friends, employers, and even the government will have access to. Are you regretting streaming the latest Harold and Kumar yet? Or all those soft-porn chick-flicks?
Netflix favors the law change because it will help them branch into social media and connect Facebook customers to each other based on their similar tastes in films. Unmentioned by Netflix is the enormous profit-potential in selling your viewing history to advertisers who can target specific demographics based on your preference in movies. Also unmentioned by Netflix is just who else might get this information once it’s taken out of the privacy lockbox.
The current version of the amendment does include a provision requiring Netflix to get their customers’ consent before sharing their viewing history. That’s helpful to those of us who are aware of the online threats to our privacy. But the vast majority of Americans, especially younger generations of Americans, are completely unaware that their privacy is in danger when they plug into the Internet. And it’ll probably end up being part of those notorious “terms and conditions” that you check the “I agree” box for, just to get onto the site.