Some laws are enacted in direct response to a story of national attention – the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) is one such law. In 1987, during confirmation hearings, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork’s videotape rental history was obtained by the Washington City Paper. Judge Bork’s entire 146 film rental history from a video store was published by the paper, sending alarm bells about the privacy with which a person’s video viewing history should be treated.
In response, Congress enacted VPPA in 1988 to prohibit video service providers from disclosing personally identifiable information except in certain, limited circumstances. As a general rule, video service providers can only disclose an individual’s personally identifiable information after obtaining prior written consent from the consumer. “Personally identifiable information” is defined by the Act as “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider.” (See more here).
VPPA provides for statutory damages of $2,500 for each person whose rights were violated under the Act.
While this law was enacted in the 1980’s, as the House Committee on the Judiciary observed in 2011, “[t]he Internet has revolutionized how consumers rent and watch movies and television programs,” and it “has also revolutionized how we share information about ourselves with others.” (House Report 112-312).
Countless lawsuits have been filed against streaming services and other websites with video content alleging that these video providers share individuals’ watch histories and video requests with third parties, like Facebook.
Our firm is at the forefront of this litigation to protect people’s private video history from being freely shared to third parties, having brought suit against Equifax and MLB.com.
If you believe your video history was unlawfully collected and want more information on your rights, please contact us.