There's a law in place that requires a company to get your permission before it discloses videos you've seen. It sounds like an obscure, niche piece of legislation, but it's suddenly super relevant—and Netflix wants to kill it.
The New York Times reports Netflix is putting big support behind a bill that would turn the law upside down: instead of requiring permission each time you watch, one yes would last forever, providing a constant stream of updates.
Why? Spotify. As tends to happen with breaches of privacy, people are starting to get used to knowing everything everyone is doing online—even things that would've sounded weird a few years ago, like a running list of everything my coworkers listen to. At first we cringe, and then we realize we like Facebook and Spotify too much to really keep complaining. Will it be the same for movies? If the bill becomes a law—it's already cleared the House—Netflix will let you opt in to a likely partnership with Facebook. That means "Sam Biddle is watching Gnomeo and Juliet" starts popping up in friends' feeds. And I don't like it.
In principle, it's no different than social music eavesdropping, which I've actually come to enjoy. But there's something about a video pick that's more personal than a song—more revealing. Unlike songs, which we can jump through with an easy double click, listen to five seconds of, and skip on, movies are a sort of commitment. It's not just some action on a laptop, but a deliberate experience of sorts. Movies and TV can reveal more than just our taste, but our personalities, political views, and values. They have a sort of moral quality you largely don't find in music. Even with if perma-sharing is optional, Netflix's attraction to it is creepy.
In all likelihood, the bill will pass, we'll all freak out, and then six months later be numb to it. [NYT]