A class action lawsuit has been filed against Netflix by a former customer that accuses the company of violating business and consumer protection laws. The former customer filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of himself and others. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Esq., the lawsuit claims that the company violates privacy laws by retaining information on a person’s viewing habits and viewing history even after a person has canceled their subscription with Netflix.
The lawsuit claims that holding onto customer information in this way violates the federal Video Privacy Protection Act. The law prohibits the disclosure of information that could reveal a person’s movie rental history or preferences. The law came out of an incident in the late 1980s when the video rental history of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee was revealed publicly after his nomination.
The privacy questions have to do with Netflix’s recommendation algorithm. The algorithm is used to suggest movies to customers that they might enjoy, and is based on data collected on what other customers have enjoyed or disliked.
The case law regarding the online movie streaming business has not been developed much because a few different lawsuits brought against digital video rental companies by customers claiming breach of privacy have been settled out of court. Netflix has previously settled a couple of different cases out of court and Blockbuster also settled a case out of court.
Netflix Data On Customer Viewing Habits Sparks New Class Action Lawsuit (The Hollywood Reporter)