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Video Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (18 U.S.C. § 2710)

Bruce L. McDonald

Under the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (“VPPA”), personally identifiable information concerning a consumer generally shall not be knowingly disclosed to any person. The statute defines personally identifiable information as “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider.” Specified exceptions to the general prohibition on disclosure are provided. The law allows disclosure to the consumer, to persons having informed, written consent of the consumer, and law enforcement officials presenting warrants, court orders, or grand jury subpoenas. The statute also permits disclosure solely of the names and addresses of consumers if the consumer has an opportunity to “opt-out” and the disclosure is for marketing purposes only and does not reveal the transactional history of the consumer. Finally, disclosure is permitted pursuant to a court order in a civil proceeding upon a showing of compelling need for the information that cannot be obtained from other means.

Consumers injured by disclosure may be awarded actual damages “not less than liquidated damages of $2,500,” punitive damages, and reasonable attorneys fees. Information obtained from a wrongful disclosure shall not be admitted into evidence in “any trial, hearing, arbitration, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United Sates, a State, or a political subdivision of a State.”

For more information, please contact Bruce L. McDonald at 202.719.7014 or bmcdonald@wileyrein.com.



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