We talked about Netflix and the company’s efforts to allow users to share the movies they are watching with friends on social networks such as Facebook. The reason Netflix can’t allow users to automatically share what they’re watching with Facebook friends now has to do with a law that’s been on the books in the United States for years concerning privacy. That act is called the Video Privacy Protection Act.
Last month the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment that would be attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act that would also address accessing other computer information. Specifically the amendment attached to the Netflix bill would’ve required federal law enforcement agencies to get a court order before being able to monitor e-mail or other data stored remotely on the cloud.
The Senate was reportedly ready to approve the video privacy bill including the amendment to require law enforcement officers to get a court order to monitor e-mails. However, for an unknown reason the senators decided to drop the amendment requiring a court order.
Currently the law in the US allows federal agencies to collect e-mail and other data stored on the cloud without needing a warrant if the information has been stored on a third-party server for over 180 days. Rather than obtaining a court order the federal agents only need to show that they have “reasonable grounds to believe “that information located in e-mails or on cloud servers would be useful in a criminal investigation.