Email privacy has now largely disappeared for Americans after the Senate voted through a piece of legislation that does not require law enforcement to get a warrant before reading their email.
The legislation was actually designed to allow automatic sharing of users’ viewing history on Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)’s video streaming service with their friends on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s social media site. It’s an update to the Video Privacy Protection Act, which was written decades ago.
However before the updated version of the legislation was voted through by the Senate, they removed certain language that protected the email privacy of Americans. The Senate actually added that language last month. It would have required a warrant for any law enforcement officer to read any American’s email. Right now email privacy laws allow officers to read email that a third party has stored for more than 180 days.
Under this update to the law, users of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)’s video streaming services could opt in to allowing their viewing choices be automatically shared on their social media pages. Mashable reports that there are two requirements called for under the law. First, Netflix and other video streaming companies must give users a “clear and conspicuous” option to prevent their views from being shared. Also every two years they must ask customers if they want to keep sharing their views.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) actually praised the bill, saying that it gives consumers more freedom. The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement on the removal of the email privacy language from the legislation. The organization told Wired, “If Netflix is going to get an update to the privacy law, we think the American people should get an update to the privacy law.”