Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2471, an amendment to the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that would clarify the law for changes in technology and allow for sharing of video use datas over social media.

According to the 1998 VPPA, which predates widespread Internet use, "video tape service providers" are mostly forbidden from sharing a consumer’s video usage information without "the informed, written consent of the consumer given at the time the disclosure is sought." H.R. 2471 would allow for "informed, written consent" to be gotten electronically. That consent must be obtained distinctly and separate from any other legal or financial terms that are presented to consumers for notification or approval. The bill also clarifies that consumers may provide their consent to information-sharing well before a disclosure, as long as thatconsent may be withdrawn by the consumer at any time.

Congress originally passed the VPPA in 1988 in response to the release of videotape rentals for then-Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.

"It is narrowly crafted and leaves undisturbed the VPPA's strong consumer privacy protections while modernizing the law to meet consumers' expectations and also give consumers new ways to discover content," according to a "Dear Colleague" letter from Congressmen Goodlatte, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Howard Coble (R-NC) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA).

It is not clear how big an impact on survey and opinion research this bill would be it is ultimately passed, other than an expanded breadth and depth of social media content for social media-based research. H.R. 2471 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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