Talking tech since 2003

Who says Congress can’t get things done? Just two days after being passed by the House, the Senate passed legislation on Thursday that relaxes the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988. This legislation, which was heavily championed by online movie service Netflix, paves the way for services like Netflix to enable users to share what they’re watching on popular social networking sites like Facebook.

With a signature from President Obama, the legislation will officially become law, and Facebook mini-feeds everywhere can suddenly become full of updates like, “Bob is watching Showgirls.”

The Senate’s vote to pass the bill means video services like Netflix are one step closer to being on the same playing field as many news websites and blogs, as well as online music services like Spotify or Rdio. These services are already able to integrate with Facebook’s frictionless sharing feature, helping users share what they’re reading or listening to instantly without having to manually take action. The Video Privacy Protection Act makes such integration difficult, as it requires a user’s consent each time that person’s video history is shared. With the new legislation, consent would only need to be provided once, though movie services would have to renew that consent agreement with the user every 24 months.

Much like I use Spotify to check out what friends are listening to, I can envision a scenario where I check out a movie because I saw a friend watched it on Facebook. If Netflix integrates social into its recommendations section, that might become more useful, as well. And as an Xbox 360 owner, I’m holding out hope that, if Netflix suddenly gains an ability to share what users are watching, perhaps I’ll be able to pull up the Xbox Guide and see which movies my friends are currently playing. Maybe Netflix and Microsoft could bring Party Mode back? Please?

We’ll keep you up to date on the progress of the bill as it makes its way to the Oval Office, and let you know whether or not President Obama signs on the dotted line. Stay tuned.

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