It's been a long day at work. You walk in the door, drop your bag and turn on your computer. You start a playlist on Spotify. Bon Jovi roars, "It's my life, it's now or never ..." Facebook pops up, "Would you like to share this song with your friends?" You click yes. Songs keep playing and Facebook keeps asking if you want to share them. Time for TV. Old "Saturday Night Live" clips are good for a laugh, and Hulu has them on Facebook. You watch "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley," a skit by Al Franken long before he became a senator for Minnesota. Again, Facebook asks if you want to share the show with your friends. Funny, because you already authorized those apps to publish whatever you listen to or watch.
Nagging requests for permission could overwhelm Facebook if the Senate decides all media should be governed by the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act, or VPPA — passed after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video rental records were published in a newspaper. Under the law, people must give their consent each time they want to share a video title that they watch. Movie and TV streaming did not exist 25 years ago, and Congress is considering whether the law should be changed. The House said yes, removing the permission restriction, but the Senate is not so sure.
"I have some reservations," Al Franken, chair for the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, said at a recent hearing. "Case by case consent is a really smart thing."