Netflix Settles Video Privacy Protection Act Lawsuit

Posted by at 12:36 pm on February 12, 2012

Netflix has let a low-profile SEC filing reveal that it had privately settled a lawsuit. The dispute, which was resolved last year but would only be settled with a $9 million payment this year, accused Netflix of breaking the Video Privacy Protection Act and other consumer protection laws by keeping subscribers’ video rental histories even after they cancelled. Customers who had resubscribed later found their past histories and queues intact, even though the VPPA required that it be purged in less than a year.

The same law also bars showing rental histories and, currently, is what prevents Netflix from sharing users’ viewing habits on Facebook in the US. A recent plan to change the VPPA’s terms would let Netflix members voluntarily share that information out, although it wouldn’t have stopped the new lawsuit.

In a response, Netflix has clarified that the settlement let it avoid having to admit any wrongdoing. It also claimed that, in spite of the VPPA accusations, it wasn’t directly linked to the “ambiguities” Netflix was worried about with the law.

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