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Congress Gives Netflix the Go Ahead to Share Video Viewing Information

bork videosIn 1988, Congress enacted the Video Privacy Protection Act after a newspaper printed the video rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. It could have been quite embarrassing and scandalous but lucky for Bork he was more into Hitchcock thrillers and James Bond than blue movies and graphic violence.

After this horrendous invasion of privacy, someone penned a law and pushed it through Congress to stop video companies from sharing this kind of information in the future. At the time, they didn’t know about Netflix, online streaming, or Facebook.

Netflix has been lobbying to have the law changed and this week they won the war. Congress passed an amendment that will allow video viewers to opt-in to total social sharing. Which means, sometime in 2013, Netflix will begin adding your viewing history to your Facebook newsfeed, with your permission.

Yelp Reviewers Sued for Writing Bad Reviews? Say it Isn’t So!

People love to stand behind the concept of Free Speech but even that doesn’t give you the right to slander another person, spout lies or yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Unfortunately, the line that divides protected opinion from legal liability is blurry and hard to see.

The Washington Post just posted a story about a woman in Virginia who is being sued by her contractor because she gave him a bad review on Yelp. Actually, bad isn’t a strong enough word. She said he damaged her home, charged her for work he didn’t do and then stole jewelry from her home. If she’d stopped after the first two remarks, she might have been alright, but now she’s fighting a $750,000 defamation of character law suit.

Google and FTC Heading for a Showdown?

According to a report from Bloomberg the FTC has issued Google an ultimatum about practices that the agency has been investigating for quite some time. Now that the election is passed I guess it’s a good time to go after them, huh?

The gist of this can be seen in this quote from Bloomberg

Google being pressed by U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz to offer to resolve the agency’s antitrust probe in the next few days or face a lawsuit, two people familiar with the matter said.

Google has been in discussions with the agency for about two weeks and hasn’t put any remedy proposals on the table, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private.

Google and EU Prepare for Next Battle

It looks as if the ongoing battle between the European Union (EU) and Google is about to jump back into the center ring of the three ring circus that is the show that these two put on from time to time around privacy.

The Guardian reports

Google will be told on Tuesday to unravel the controversial changes introduced in March to its European privacy policy, legal sources have told the Guardian.

The French data protection commissioner, the CNIL, will be holding a press conference on Tuesday to announce the results of its deliberations together with the data protection chiefs of the other European Union countries.

As exclusively revealed by the Guardian last week, they have determined that Google’s changes breached EU law because they did not give users any chance to opt out of the changes.

Will Facebook’s Legal Concerns Slow Its Progress?

Facebook is big enough now that it is likely to carry a permanent bullseye on its corporate chest which will be in the crosshairs of every ambulance chasing lawyer (if that ambulance is hauling around a gravely wounded IPO attempt like Facebook’s).

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the mounting lawsuits against the social media giant could be a real problem.

Facebook Inc.’s botched initial public offering is turning into a potential legal morass for the social-networking firm, its investment bankers and the exchange on which it went public.

About 50 lawsuits have been filed against Facebook, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. and underwriters of Facebook’s May IPO, according to lawyers involved in the cases.

Google Gets Hit With Big Fine For Serving Up Cookies

Google Inc. has been ordered to crack open the wallet and pay a $22.5 million civil penalty for misrepresentaion of privacy policies.

The FTC says Google told users that the Safari browser was set to block cookies by default. Taking their word for it, users continued to surf the web, believing they were free of prying eyes. Not so. The FTC says that for a few months between 2011 and 2012, Google created a work around that placed tracking cookies for their DoubleClick network on millions of Macs, iPhones and iPads.

As if lying to the public wasn’t bad enough, the FTC says Google violated an agreement they had with the government agency that specifically forbid them from misrepresenting privacy options.

Gearing Up for Its Public Offering, Facebook Opens Terms and Policies Hub

Facebook is about to go public with what will be one of the most discussed, examined and hyped IPO’s in history. We are all pretty fed up familiar with that story.

If you have been watching Facebook as of late, they are acting like a person who is entertaining a large group of people at their house and realized that it needed some serious clean-up work to be truly presentable. The latest effort to tidy up for money lenders is the introduction of the new ‘Terms and Policies Hub‘. In a nutshell, it’s the place where the myriad terms and conditions, privacy policies and the like reside. Mashable reports

Facebook, infamous for its changing policies and confusion among users about what they’re getting themselves into when they use the world’s largest social network, has finally aggregated all its terms and policies under the same roof.