|Sponsor||Rep. Goodlatte, Bob|
|Date||December 7, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)|
|Staff Contact||Sarah Makin|
On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2471, a bill to amend section 2710 of title 18, United States Code, to clarify that a video tape service provider may obtain a consumer's informed, written consent on an ongoing basis and that consent may be obtained through the Internet, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage.
H.R. 2471 was introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on July 8, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee held a markup of the bill on October 13, 2011, and ordered the bill to be reported, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 2471 would amend the federal criminal code to require a video tape service provider to obtain a consumer’s informed, written, consent to disclose personally identifiable information concerning the consumer via the Internet. The bill would require that the consent be gathered at the time the disclosure is sought and in advance for a set period of time or until consent is withdrawn by the consumer.
According to the House Committee on the Judiciary, the bill would modernize the way in which consumers can share information about their movie or TV show preferences. Current law prohibits video stores from disclosing personally identifiable information that links the customer or patron to particular materials or services. In the event of an unauthorized disclosure, an individual may bring a civil action for damages. The law permits the disclosure of personally identifiable information under certain limited circumstances, including with the prior, written consent of the customer.
The Internet has revolutionized how consumers rent and watch movies and television programs. Video stores have been replaced with “on-demand” cable services or Internet streaming services that allow a customer to watch a movie or TV show from their laptop or even their cell phone. The Internet has also revolutionized how we share information about ourselves with others. In the 1980s, when one wished to recommend a movie to friends, they would likely call them on the telephone. In the 1990s, they would send an email. Today, they post their opinions on their social networking page.
Current law requires a consumer to consent to sharing their movie or TV rental information each time the provider wishes to disclose. This prevents consumers from sharing information about their movie or TV preferences through social media sites on an ongoing basis.
H.R. 2471 would remedy this restriction by amending current law to allow consumers to provide their informed, written consent once so they can – if they so choose – continuously share their movie or TV show preferences through their social media sites. The legislation does not eliminate the requirement that consumers “opt-in” to this information sharing and it maintains the requirement of informed written consent. The bill would allow for a one-time “opt-in” with the option for the consumer to “opt-out” of this sharing agreement at any time.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would have no significant cost to the federal government. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
H.R. 2471 would impose a private-sector mandate, as defined in the UMRA, by requiring providers of video tape services and other entities to use “distinct and separate” forms when obtaining consent to disclose a consumer’s personally identifiable information. At the same time, the bill would benefit providers and other entities by allowing them to obtain consent via the Internet, in advance, and only once until consent is withdrawn. Current law requires written consent each time discloser of a consumer’s information is sought. Based on information from industry sources, CBO estimates that there would be no significant net costs to comply with the mandate; thus any costs would fall well below the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($142 million in 2011 adjusted annually for inflation).