H.R. 6671: 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

H.R. 6671

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

Date
December 18, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, December 18, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 6671, 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 vote for passage.  H.R. 6671 was introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on December 17, 2012, and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which took no official action on the bill. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 6671 would amend the federal criminal code to require a video 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consent be gathered at the time the disclosure is sought and in advance for a set period of time or until consent is withdrawn by the consumer.

The House approved a similar bill, H.R. 2471, on December 6, 2011.  H.R. 6671 is identical to H.R. 2471, but includes the following changes:

  • H.R. 6671 would include an amendment offered by Rep. Nadler (D-NY) that to require the consent agreement to be separate from other agreements;
  • The bill would include a Senate amendment that would limit a consent agreement to two years; and
  • H.R. 6671 would include a Senate amendment that would allow the consumer to either opt out permanently or on a case-by-case basis.

Background

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. 6671 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.

Cost

A CBO score of H.R. 6671 was not available as of press time.