Netflix Settling With Subscribers In Video Privacy Protection Case

9:46 PM, Jul 31, 2012   |    comments
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One of the most popular video services out there is in trouble yet again and this time it's paying up. Netflix has settled a class action lawsuit after being accused of violating its customers' privacy.

If you're one of 27 million Americans who subscribe to Netflix you'll be getting an email telling you all about it.

Netflix has admitted no wrong doing of violating the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) but has agreed to pay 9 million dollars in penalties.

Why? Because of a lawsuit filed in 2011 accusing the company of retaining customer viewing histories longer than necessary and disclosing the information to third parties without prior consent.

"I don't necessarily want my mother to know what I'm watching," said 'MacKenzie', a Netflix subscriber after hearing the news.

She automatically joins tens of millions of other Americans as part of the class action settlement.

Click here to learn more about the settlement

This settlement comes as Netflix prepares for another fight in trying to get changes to the Video Privacy Protection Act that would allow customers viewing histories to post to Facebook.

"You wouldn't want people to know that especially not on Facebook," said Audrey, another Netflix subscriber.

Netflix Chief Communication Officer Jonathan Friedman sent WXIA/11Alive this email about the current privacy settlement.

"This matter is unrelated to the company's ongoing concerns about the ambiguities contained in the VPPA, which keep Netflix from offering its U.S. members the ability to automatically share their instant watching information with their Facebook friends, an experience Netflix members outside the US currently enjoy."

A bill to make changes to the VPPA has already passed the House but whether it makes it through the Senate is unknown.

Privacy groups like Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC are concerned.

"It's very broad consent for consumers to use an app to post viewing histories on Facebook and consumers should have the ability to opt out and disable it at anytime," said Executive Director Marc Rotenberg.

Rotenberg testified in Congress in January about changing the act. He is concerned that changing it would gut one of the most important safeguards in protecting privacy.

Read Rotenberg's Testimony

He told 11Alive News that most of the 9 million dollars from Netflix's recent settlement will go to advocacy groups like his to help protect consumer interests.

Attorney fees are $2.5 million and the original two plaintiffs will get 15 grand apiece.

WXIA

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