Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Live In the U.S.? No Cool Netflix Facebook Integration for You.

Netflix has been talking up its plans for a big Facebook integration for some time now, and given that CEO Reed Hastings is now on the Facebook board, it ought to be here any day.

Right?

Nope. I mean: Not if you live in the U.S.

Netflix says it will have a cool integration with Facebook up and running sometime in the next three months, but only for subscribers in Canada and Latin America (where it has yet to officially open for business).

Blame the government, says CEO Reed Hastings, citing a law I’ve never heard of. Here’s the portion of his shareholders’ letter in which he addresses the snag:

At this point, we plan to launch this initiative only in Canada and Latin America, as the VPPA (Video Privacy Protection Act) discourages us from launching our Facebook integration domestically. Under the VPPA, it is ambiguous when and how a user can give permission for his or her video viewing data to be shared. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a simple clarification, HR2471, which says when and how a user can give such permission. We’re hoping HR2471 passes, enabling us to offer our Facebook integration to our U.S. subscribers who desire it.

UPDATE: Thanks to Google’s Caroline McCarthy for reminding us that the VPPA is better known as the “Bork Law,” put into effect after the former Supreme Court nominee’s video rental records were published during his confirmation hearings. The VPPA has already generated a lawsuit for Netflix, related to a contest it held to build a better recommendation engine.

[Image credit: Wikipedia/Wikimedia]


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik