Minnesota, USA – December 12, 2011 – It should be no surprise that the ‘privacy’ issue is making an appearance for other companies other than Facebook –undoubtedly this instance is the most known and it is closely tied to it; if the current U.S. Video Privacy Protection Act is amended, companies like Netflix could open up the opportunity for viewing habits to be displayed on Facebook without the written permission of the users. With the current law, it is impossible for Netflix to display this information.
At a moment when Facebook users believed that their privacy rights could not be violated, the government may open the flood gates and allow another company to do it through Facebook –while it is not actually Facebook breaking its agreement and violating its users. A public reaction did not occur yet, but it is likely to cause uproar if the amendment passes. In the eyes of consumers, it looks like companies that conduct business online are trying the best they can to ‘share’ their information; if it was information that we wanted to be shared, it would be a different story. However, some people are embarrassed by their ‘habits’ or viewing history.
In the past, people could have their ‘secret lives’ and be comfortable viewing or doing anything that they wanted online. Now that companies such as Netflix, Facebook, and Google have extensive pools of information linked to IP addresses, e-mail accounts, and much more, anything could bite back at users even years after the occurrence. For instance, workplaces may figure out that some employees had a ‘drug’ and ‘porn’ issue at one point and since recovered, but may still terminate employment due to the availability of information that could hurt its reputation.
With the change of ‘data collecting’, it should be mandatory for companies to allow its users to access this information and potentially delete which information they want. Although it is unlikely that this would happen without government intervention, it would give internet users the sense of ‘control’ again; every internet search, video viewing, or even accidental situation of entering any site is recorded and ready to be displayed for the entire world to see!
If there were not enough cases where users sue companies, it is likely that this will increase dramatically in the future; yet, it is difficult for regular people to go up against a large company and win the case. What does this mean for the future of the online consumer The government must not sit back and watch this happen but rather intervene.