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Public Statements

Introduction of Legislation to Update the VPPA

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, today I am joined by my colleagues, Representatives COBLE, SENSENBRENNER and SANCHEZ in introducing a bipartisan bill to update the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, VPPA. This bill will ensure that a law related to the handling of video tape rental information is updated to reflect the realities of the 21st Century.

The VPPA was passed by Congress in the wake of Judge Robert Bork's 1987 Supreme Court nomination battle, during which a local Washington, DC, newspaper obtained a list of video tapes the Bork family rented from its neighborhood video tape rental store. This disclosure caused bipartisan outrage, which resulted in the enactment of the VPPA.

The commercial video distribution landscape has changed dramatically since 1988. Back then, the primary consumer consumption of commercial video content occurred through the sale or rental of prerecorded video cassette tapes. This required users to travel to their local video rental store to pick a movie. Afterward, consumers had to travel back to the store to return the rented movie. Movies that consumers rented and enjoyed were recommended to friends primarily through face-to-face conversations. With today's technology, consumers can quickly and efficiently access video programming through a variety of platforms, including through Internet Protocol-based video services--all without leaving their homes.

Our proposed amendment updates the VPPA to allow video tape service providers to facilitate the sharing on social media networks of the movies watched or recommended by users. Specifically, it is narrowly crafted to preserve the VPPA's protections for consumers' privacy while modernizing the law to empower consumers to do more with their video consumption preferences, including sharing names of new or favorite TV shows or movies on social media in a simple way. However, it protects the consumer's control over his information by requiring consumer consent before any of this can occur. And, it makes clear that a consumer can opt-in to the ongoing sharing of his or her favorite movies or TV shows without having to provide consent each and every time a movie is rented. It also makes clear that written, affirmative consent can be provided through the Internet and can be withdrawn at any time.

This amendment does not change the privacy standard adopted by Congress when the VPPA was first enacted. Specifically, it preserves the requirement that the users provide affirmative, written consent.

It is time that Congress updates the VPPA to keep up with today's technology and the consumer marketplace. This bill does just that.

I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this important piece of legislation.

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