Netflix Sued Over Customer Privacy for Second Time in Four Months

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Does Netflix know too much? The video provider is facing a class action lawsuit that claims that the company is violating user privacy by keeping viewing and payment records after customers cancel their service.

The action, filed last week by attorneys acting on behalf of former customer Peter Comstock and others, alleges that Netflix is violating multiple laws in keeping this information on file, most importantly the federal Video Privacy Protection Act. That act asks that video providers “destroy personally identifiable information as soon as practicable, but no later than one year from the date the information is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it was collected” – but Netflix is keeping everything on file nonetheless.

The complication – and a possible defense for the company – is that Netflix records information about what you watch not only to keep track of your account, but to improve its recommendation service for all members… which means that whatever information it’s gathered about your all-day Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip streaming marathon (Or maybe that’s just me) will be “necessary for the purpose for which it was collected” until Netflix stops recommending titles to customers. Which, of course, may mean that it could be considered necessary for the lifespan of the company.

This isn’t the first time Netflix has faced legal trouble over this matter; late last year, a similar class action suit was brought against the company, but settled out of court under confidential terms. Does a similar fate await this lawsuit – and if so, what will happen the next time someone decides to sue?

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