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Public Statements

Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, H.R. 6671 makes a minor, overdue change to update the Video Privacy Protection Act. I thank the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Goodlatte, for sponsoring this commonsense, bipartisan legislation.

The Video Privacy Protection Act prohibits video stores from disclosing certain ``personally identifiable information'' of their customers.

In the event of an unauthorized disclosure, an individual can sue in civil court for damages. But the law has always allowed some personally identifiable information to be released in limited circumstances, such as in response to a court order or when the customer gives their prior, written consent.

However, the technologies of entertainment are changing. Today, consumers are just as likely to stream a movie from the Internet as they are to rent a movie from a video store. And when people view entertainment on the Internet, often they like to share their activities with friends through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Under current law, the social media sites would have to obtain written consent each time someone wishes to share their video choices.

H.R. 6671 does not change the prohibition on disclosure of personal information or expand the exceptions when information can be disclosed. It does not change the requirement for informed, written consent by a consumer. It simply allows the consumer to consent once before using new social media programs to share their movie or TV show preferences.

An earlier version of this bill passed the House last year, by a vote of 303 to 116. In the Senate, two amendments were adopted to make the bill even more consumer friendly. This new version adopts these amendments to accommodate concerns about consumer choice and privacy.

H.R. 6671 adopts an amendment proffered in mark-up by Congressman Nadler, which requires the consumer consent agreement to be in a completely separate form apart from the other contract details.

In addition, H.R. 6671 adopts two Senate amendments that place limitations on how consent is obtained from consumers. The bill now limits the disclosure agreement to 2 years.

The bill also requires the video provider to give consumers easy options to end the sharing agreement. These changes will ensure that consumers are aware they are sharing information and are voluntarily taking part.

Rather than dramatically alter the Act's existing provisions, H.R. 6671 keeps the vast majority of the Act in place and simply modernizes the way in which consumers can give their informed consent. This bill brings the Video Privacy Protection Act into the 21st century. And the changes adopted made from the previous bill increase consumer protection from the beginning of the process to its end.

I again thank my colleague from Virginia, the Chairman-Elect of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Goodlatte, for his work on this important issue. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

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