Video Privacy Protect Act Amendments Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Bob Goodlatte
Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Today I am pleased that we are considering a bipartisan bill to update the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988. This bill will ensure that a law related to the handling of videotape 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, D.C., newspaper obtained a list of videotapes the Bork family rented from its neighborhood videotape rental store. This disclosure caused bipartisan outrage, which resulted in the enactment of the Video Privacy Protection Act.

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 videocassette 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.

This bill is extremely similar to H.R. 2471, which passed the House overwhelmingly a year ago. This newer version incorporates provisions suggested by the Senate that allows greater consumer flexibility in their video sharing habits. I support these enhancements to the bill.

This bill updates the Video Privacy Protection Act to allow videotape 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 simpler way. However, it protects the consumer's control over the information by requiring consumer consent before any of this occurs, 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. The bill we are considering today requires that the consent be distinct and separate from any other form setting forth other legal and financial obligations. Companies must provide consumers with the clear and conspicuous option to withdraw their consent to share at any time. Finally, a consumer's consent to share expires after 24 months unless the consumer chooses to opt in again.

This bill is truly pro-consumer and places the decision of whether or not to share video rentals with one's friends squarely in the hands of the consumer. In fact, the cochairs of the Future of Privacy Forum correctly pointed out, in an opinion piece in Roll Call on November 29, 2011, that ``the antiquated law on the books is a hindrance to consumers.''

This legislation does not change the scope of who is covered by the VPPA or the definition of ``personally identifiable information.'' In addition, it preserves the requirement that the user provide affirmative, written consent.

It's 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.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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