House Passes Changes to Video Privacy Protection Act Without Crucial Provisions Approved by Senate

December 18, 2012

Problematic Change Weakens VPPA Absent Changes to Other Electronic Privacy Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The House Of Representatives today passed an amendment to the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) without including improvements to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

The VPPA change, contained in H.R. 6671, limits the consent necessary to share video-rental records, has been a priority for companies like Netflix and Facebook that want to encourage customers to share more personal data. It was a key element of a broader ECPA reform package passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 29, which would require law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants to access private electronic communications and other content, such as email, private social network posts and other information stored with cloud-based services.

“Changes to electronic privacy cannot happen piecemeal,” said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “If we are to achieve true reform – which means getting full protection for Americans’ in-boxes and private communication – we cannot give priority to special interests.  If they want updates to our privacy laws, they should have to wait in line with the American people.”

H.R. 6671 passed on a voice vote.

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