Blockbuster Sued For Revealing Movie Rental Info To Facebook's Beacon

from the oops dept

There was plenty of people upset by Facebook’s original “Beacon” advertising system, that automatically connected information on purchases to your “news feed” and broadcasted them to all your Facebook friends — but now we’ll find out if some of that activity was illegal. One of the initial participating companies was Blockbuster, who automatically fed information to Facebook about what movies you had rented. It turns out that there’s a specific federal law against revealing info about movie rentals (who knew?). The Videotape Privacy Protection Act was apparently passed by Congress after Supreme Court Appointee Robert Bork’s videotape rentals were revealed while he was being reviewed by Congress. While plenty of folks don’t know about this law, you would think that it would be pretty near the top of the list of laws that a company like Blockbuster would be familiar with. Yet, it seems to not have occurred to anyone there that automatically feeding movie rental info to Facebook might violate that law. However, it appears someone else did recognize this and has now sued Blockbuster for violating the law. Not surprisingly, the plan is to turn this into a class action lawsuit. Thanks to the specifics of this particular law, it’s unlikely that other Beacon participants violated this law, but it’s only a matter of time until class action lawyers figure out some other law they probably violated.

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Companies: blockbuster, facebook

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Comments on “Blockbuster Sued For Revealing Movie Rental Info To Facebook's Beacon”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I must be psychic!!!! I know how this will end!!! The lawyers will get paid a whole lot of money. Blockbuster will not admit wrong doing. They will agree to review their policies and not do this again.
They will send out a coupon for 1 free video rental (So long as you provide all your personal information) to those who rented movies during this period and may have had their information revealed.
The attorney’s will get paid based on how many coupons got sent out, (not how many were actually used).
The attorney’s will make lots of money!!!!
God bless America (Just don’t make us sue you for it)!!!

JB says:


I’m sure that the terms of service which no one reads says that you agree to allow Facebook and other sites to share any and all information about your activities with anyone they please.

And even if it didn’t say that when you signed up for Facebook, one of the provisions probably allows them to change the TOS by sending out an email notification that no one reads.

tim stevens says:

federal law: movie rental info private

I think that law came about due to the Clarance Thomas hearings. One of the Democrat dirty tricks was to obtain a copy of his Blockbuster rental history and release the info to the press. Seems the soon to be SC justice rental a few naughty flicks which teens can now bittorrent overnight.

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