Netflix: Stories about our new PAC and SOPA are not true

It doesn’t take much to start an insta-campaign these days against someone or something thanks to social media. So when an editor emailed a link to a story about Netflix creating a new SuperPAC to support SOPA, I could see this would be a story that was going to prompt a strong backlash against a company that doesn’t really need another one at this point.

Sure enough, it appeared Anonymous seemed to be making some waves with an anti-Netflix campaign at: #OpBoycottNetflix .

So, I decided to look for the offending document, and found instead a generic registration for a Political Action Committee filed on April 5 that seemed pretty benign. No mention of taking any positions on SOPA or any other insues.

Then I emailed the company. Noting that the original report about the PAC came from the “Russian News Agency,” a Netflix spokesman said:

“PACs are commonplace for companies that lead a big, growing market and Netflix is no exception. Our PAC is a way for our employees to support candidates that understand our business and technology.  It was not set up for the purpose of supporting SOPA or PIPA.  Instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”

On the whole, Netflix has a fairly small presence in Washington. It just formally registered to lobby for the first time in late 2010. And in 2011, the company spent $500,000 lobbying Congress on topics such as:  “Telecommunications issues, Internet non-discrimination; Internet privacy, Intellectual property issues; Internet competition issues; H.R. 2471, Video Privacy Protection Act,” according to Senate lobbying disclosure records.

Will any of this halt the campaign? Probably not. As I write, the tweets are still flying fast and furious.


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  • Steven B. Combes

    Glad to hear the denial. I’ll hold off canceling my membership until more info is available.

  • AnonymousOccupier

    So you honestly believe that a corporation using capital resources that dwarfs the capital of an ordinary citizen to influence democracy in an unnatural way is “pretty benign”. Do you think that corporations should be able to influence the political system in a way that an ordinary citizen can not? I think it is morally wrong and outrageous that corporations try to pervert democracy in this way. I thought perhaps netflix was above such endeavors. Guess i was wrong.

  • William Bandersatch

    It won’t halt the campaign because the reason we’re angry isn’t that you support SOPA, it’s that you support legalizing bribery of our legislature en masse.

  • Yes, you were wrong. Like it or not, it’s how things work. Netflix is barely a blip on the radar when it comes to what tobacco, oil companies, and telecom companies spend.

  • @William: If that’s your cause, money and the influence on politics, I’d say there are much bigger fish to fry than Netflix. They are way, way down the list on what companies spend to influence Congress.

  • Steven Van der Werf

    it depends very much on purpose.
    If Netflix are lobbying to retain a relatively free internet – against the hundreds of million of lobbying $ wanting the opposite – then it’s a good thing.

    I do wholly agree that corporate influence on political action is a gross perversity, but if you have one side pumping money in, it’s good for balance to have the other.

  • jos mohiz

    I would like to point out the part of the quote, “instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act”. All of these are parts of SOPA. Bandwidth caps should be illegal. And network neutrality is good if used in its proper term but often is used by politicians to mean, network neutrality for corporations not consumers, which would be bad for us.

    Also as a general rule I don’t believe in super pacs as a principle agains the wealthy buying our government, so unless there is a reversal.. I will likely cancel my membership.

  • IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States

    “Intellectual property issues”

    Ah, and this excludes supporting SOPA/PIPA how?

  • IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States

    >>>> Netflix is barely a blip on the radar when it comes to what tobacco, oil companies, and telecom companies spend.

    Or the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Any of Nader’s organizations. Funny how it’s only corporations who aren’t allowed to influence government in any way.

    The real problem with all this is giving power to governments in the first place. If they didn’t have the power there wouldn’t be any benefit to buying politicians.

    It’s only fools who think that they’ll be able to retain some power over the government agents in the face of collected action by this or that interest group, no matter who the hell it is.

    “Oh, but my guys buying support is ok”? You don’t get to make that decision, all you are able to do is legitimize the government seizure of power in the first place.

    So don’t.

  • Concerned citizen

    I will not under any circumstances support a company that uses a PAC. They have lost my dollars, and I hope their decision to create a PAC sinks the company.

  • Why would u need a superpac? dip shits. goodbye

  • ser korz

    “Our PAC is a way for our employees to support candidates that understand our business and technology”.[ “our employees” ] That is Bull. Employees have unions that represent them and their interest. employers have a hard time paying a livable wage , and have no loyalty to them to be concerned about employees concerns. if making money is not sufficient that a corporation need to bribe legislation as so to disadvantage their employees in their home life , that is pathetic ; it was illegal once upon a time for corporations to petition and should be , and they( a corporation ) are not a person as they clame to be , only a individual is a person not an organization. { corporation |ˌkôrpəˈrā sh ən|
    a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law.}

  • Before expressing moral outrage at Netflix for engaging in the political process, why not express the outrage where it belongs – to ‘We the People’ who continue to grudgingly support the 2 main political parties who allow themselves to be influenced by lobbyists.

    Netflix is engaging in discussions that most consumers would agree with if they understood the issues. They are actually pro-consumer because the issues that affects the consumers also happens to affect them. To decide to abandon Netflix because they create a PAC is like saying “I will now go live in a log cabin and not engage in American life anymore, because you’re all corrupt.”

  • Maybe Netflix could have also used the opportunity to voice opposition to SOPA/PIPA and future similar attempts …. interestingly their statements says the PAC isn’t about pushing SOPA, but they miss their chance to come out against such legislation.

  • Nosgoth1979

    I think the worrying part of this issue is that Netflix is willing to mention which issues they’re concerned with, but not which side of those issues they lean toward. So while I think it’s unfair to immediately say they’re supporting SOPA, I think it’s dangerous to write this off as benign, especially considering their initial support of SOPA. This entire business is just one more thing that makes me that much happier to no longer a Netflix customer. I’m much happier now that I have Blockbuster @Home through my employer, DISH, anyway. Not only does it have streaming but it also includes movies and video games through the mail, and since I’m a gamer that was an easy choice. I say if people don’t want to give their money to Netflix, knowing they may be using that money to fund these types of ambiguous political machinations, that’s their business.