House Passes Bill Easing Sharing of Video Rental Information

Jeffrey ErnstFriedman | December 07, 2011

December 7, 2011 - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill (HR 2471) that would amend the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 to ease restrictions on sharing of video rental information. The bill is supported by Facebook, Netflix, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Digital Media Association. The measure is opposed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The bill would allow a video service provider to "obtain a consumer's informed, written consent on an ongoing basis and that consent may be obtained through the Internet." Current law treats disclosure regarding renting video tape cassettes and online streaming video identically. There are no such restrictions on disclosure of other media such as music. "Congress adopted the [Video Privacy Protection Act] in 1988 after failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental history was published by the Washington City Paper during confirmation hearings. The act outlaws the disclosure of video rentals unless the consumer gives consent, on a rental-by-rental basis," according to David Kravets of

Amongst All Lawmakers

  • The online computer services industry (e.g., Facebook, Netflix, and the Digital Media Association), which supported the bill, gave on average 73% more to House members who voted 'YES' ($2,644) than to House members who voted 'NO' ($1,525). 

METHODOLOGY: Includes reported contributions to congressional campaigns of House members in office on day of vote, from interest groups invested in the vote according to MapLight, July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011. Contributions data source: