OVERNIGHT TECH: Netflix wants video privacy law updated

THE LEDE: Netflix general counsel David Hyman will testify at hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on Privacy and Technology on updating a video privacy law on Tuesday. 

The Video Privacy Protection Act was passed in 1988 after the Washington City Paper published a list of recent video rentals by Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork during his contentious nomination process. Although his rental history was mostly innocuous, members of Congress were outraged at the breach of privacy. The law bans sharing of rental information without written consent by the consumer or a warrant from the police.

Netflix argues the law should be amended to allow users to opt in to automatically share their viewing habits on social networks. Users can already share on Facebook which songs they listen to and articles they read.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who chairs the subpanel, called the hearing. The House passed an update to the video privacy law last month. 

William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, and Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, will also testify. 

Senators to push for FCC flexibility on spectrum auctions: Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Reed Hundt will call for Congress to pass a spectrum bill that maintains the FCC’s flexibility at a briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

The proposed law would authorize the FCC to auction airwaves, or spectrum, that currently belong to television broadcasters, splitting some of the revenue with the stations that choose to participate. The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.

The House GOP version of the legislation would restrict the FCC’s ability to impose conditions on the companies that buy the spectrum and would prohibit the FCC from designating the spectrum it reclaims from broadcasters for unlicensed use. Unlicensed spectrum, which can be used by any company for free, powers technologies such as Wi-Fi, garage-door openers and remote controls.

Speakers at the forum will discuss the importance of unlicensed spectrum and maintaining the FCC’s flexibility. A panel of experts, including Harvard’s Yochai Benkler, will also speak at the event.

The Wireless Innovation Alliance and New America Foundation will host the event at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Obama campaign to use mobile payment processor Square for donations: The Obama campaign announced on Monday that it will use Square, a mobile payments device, to collect donations.

The service will allow campaign volunteers to process donations on their mobile devices as they canvas neighborhoods.


Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote to Google CEO Larry Page on Monday and requested a briefing on the company’s recent changes to its privacy policy.

The Information Technology Industry Council hired White House official Tom Gavin to be vice president for external affairs on Monday.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) released a draft of a cellphone privacy bill on Monday in response to the controversy surrounding cellphone tracking software Carrier IQ.

Overall industry revenue and household spending on entertainment have grown steadily in recent years in spite of the entrainment industry’s claims that online piracy is sapping its profits, according to a new report commissioned by the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

User data stored in could be deleted as early as Thursday, according to a court document filed by prosecutors.

—Updated at 6:27 p.m.

Tags Al Franken Edward Markey G.K. Butterfield Jerry Moran John Kerry
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