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Privacy of Video Rental Records

Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:01 pm
by Administrator
Privacy of Video Rental Records

The Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 is a good example of the U.S. practice of enacting privacy legislation in response to dramatic instances of information misuse. Pub. L. No. 100-618, 102 Stat. 3195, 18 U.S.C. 2701-11. Prior to its enactment in 1988, anybody could obtain a list of movies rented by a particular customer without that customer's permission. Congress passed legislation to protect video records only after a Washington newspaper published Judge Robert Bork's video rental history following his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Today Americans are free to watch rented films in the privacy of their own homes without fear that their video rental records might be disclosed to the public. A video store that knowingly releases a customer's rental information or video purchases is liable for damages to that customer. 18 U.S.C. 2710(a),(c). There are logical exceptions to this rule, however. Video stores may, of course, release rental records with a customer's consent. 18 U.S.C. 2710(b)(2)(B) Law enforcement agencies may obtain this information pursuant to a search warrant, court order, or grand jury subpoena.18 U.S.C. 2710(b)(2)(C),(F).