The case was filed in The United States district Court, Northern District Court of California, San Jose District in California (http://www.videoprivacyclass.com/Portals/0/Documents/In%20Re%20Netflix%20Privacy%20Litigation%20Preliminary%20Approval%20Order.pdf) as a putative class action suit brought by former Netflix subscribers, Jeff Milans and Peter Comstock (collectively “Plaintiffs”), alleging the way Defendant Netflix, Inc. (“Netflix”), a provider of video-by-mail and internet services, retained and used its subscribers’ Entertainment Content Viewing Histories. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Netflix violated the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2710(e) by retaining customer viewing histories longer than “necessary for the purpose for which [they were] collected” and that Netflix disclosed the information to third parties without prior consent to do so. Plaintiff Jeff Milans initiated this class action on January 26, 2011, alleging that Netflix unlawfully retained and disclosed his personally identifiable Entertainment Content Viewing. The case was filed on September 12th, 2011 and you can see the original complaint at (http://www.videoprivacyclass.com/Portals/0/Documents/In%20Re%20Netflix%20Privacy%20Litigation%20Complaint.pdf).
Well, the case has been settled and must be approved in an AMENDED ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARYAPPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT, which means it must be approved by a judge. Of course in agreeing to settle NetFlix stated:
“Netflix has denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing whatsoever and has denied and continues to deny that it committed, or threatened or attempted to commit, any wrongful act or violation of law or duty alleged in the Action. Netflix also contends that it has acted properly in all regards in connection with its duties under the VPPA. Nonetheless, taking into account the uncertainty and risks inherent in any litigation” (Downloaded settlement agreement).
And just what is the settlement agreement? $9.000, 000, much of which will be eaten up by administration costs, the cost of lawyers, and ‘incentive” award to the plaintiff’s or class representatives for bringing the action. The $9,000,000 less a mountain of costs will be distributed to the “class” of Netflix users who opt in for the settlement or more correctly do not opt out (http://www.videoprivacyclass.com/Portals/0/Documents/In%20Re%20Netflix%20Privacy%20Litigation%20Preliminary%20Approval%20Order.pdf).
Netflix also has agreed to maintain and archive an Entertainment Content Viewing history Link so people can see payment and identification of all class action members. In exchange for all of this, Netflix will be held free from any legal liability.
CEO Reed Hastings “role model for education”?
Readers might not know it but Reed Hastings, the founder and CEO of Netflix is also a big supporter of privatized, financialized education. DreamBox Learning is just one example where Hastings has put his moneyed muscles. It is an adaptive e-learning platform for students and it has raised $11 million in new funding led by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (who is investing through the Charter School Growth Fund). Charter School Growth calls itself a non-profit that “invests philanthropic capital in the nation’s highest performing charter school operators to dramatically expand their impact on underserved students (The Charter School Growth Fund is a non-profit that invests philanthropic capital in the nation’s highest performing charter school operators to dramatically expand their impact on underserved students (http://chartergrowthfund.org/). The group has partnered with Kleiner Perkins (http://www.kpcb.com/) a global investment team, and their partner John Doerr (this is a personal investment for Doerr). This brings DreamBox’s total funding to $18 million (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2012/05/11/reed-hastings-on-what-it-takes-to-grow-a-20-billion-education-company/).
Launched in 2008, DreamBox Learning offers more than 500 online math lessons, puzzles, games and curriculums for schools and home schools, targeting young students in kindergarten through fifth grade (http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/07/reed-hastings-and-john-doerr-put-11m-in-adaptive-online-math-learning-platform-dreambox/).
Back in May, Forbes magazine known for profiling white collar criminals and crooks remarked that:
“That selfless spirit of experimentation has made Netflix cofounder, and education entrepreneur, Reed Hastings, a textbook Silicon Valley success story. A former math teacher, with a satchel full of teachable moments, Hastings has learned what works at the lucrative intersection of technology and education, or Ed Tech, the focus of the Education Innovation Summit (EIS) where Hastings and I met” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2012/05/11/reed-hastings-on-what-it-takes-to-grow-a-20-billion-education-company/).
In the fawning article, Hastings exuberantly stated:
“What we want to do is grow the capacity on the charter school side. In Arizona, we’re up to 10 percent of kids now in charter schools. In California, we’re about eight percent in charter schools. But where you really get excited is when you look at DC at 22 percent.
Or you look at New Orleans at 70 percent of kids. And the NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] scores in New Orleans are rising. What we’re going to see in New Orleans is the fullest proof of when you really allow charter schools to thrive, to compete with each other, to learn from each other — and they’re also going to be rapid adapters of [education] technology from all of you — that we’re going to get incredible results.
Hopefully, in the US political context, we’ll turn New Orleans into the role model for big city reform. The school district still exists in New Orleans and it plays a critical role in general oversight. And in bringing to town more and more charter school networks. Sort of like a Chamber of Commerce would to develop business. I hope that it will become a long-term model for great education” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2012/05/11/reed-hastings-on-what-it-takes-to-grow-a-20-billion-education-company/).
Not only is New Orleans the role model for vouchers and privatization but also the providence of the New Jim Crow. Hastings will be proud to know that the disaster capitalism of smashing and grabbing the school district has caused unparalleled crisis, stress, decimation, refugees still unable to return, and destruction to thousands of former residents, current residents, teachers, and students. Add to this the recent ruling by the courts that the Orleans Parish School Board and the state wrongfully fired thousands of the city’s teachers and other school employees after Hurricane Katrina, a New Orleans judge ruled Wednesday. The decision in the class-action suit could potentially mean the employees are owed hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages and benefits, although the losing side is expected to appeal (http://www.nola.com/katrina/index.ssf/2012/06/orleans_parish_school_firings.html).
In the interim, the tough entrepreneurial Hastings, though refusing to admit that his company violated the law, is now using his selfless charm to settle a law suit saying he violated privacy rights under the Constitution. These are the philanthro-pirates that form the new gilded Age of financial robber barons and useless blowhards that use their inferiority complexes and vast fortunes to socially engineer a new social Darwinism in accordance with their own delusions. Morally bankrupt and educationally challenged they look to formulate public policy that destroys the public commons in preference for their own mendacity and perfidious rhetoric. This is America, the hustler society where grubby capitalists like Reed Hastings can have a large influence over social policy due to the corruption that has ossified a system in decline.