The followup to the wildly successful Netflix Prize has been canceled due to privacy concerns. From a blog post by Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix:
In the past few months, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asked us how a Netflix Prize sequel might affect Netflix members’ privacy, and a lawsuit was filed by KamberLaw LLC pertaining to the sequel. With both the FTC and the plaintiffs’ lawyers, we’ve had very productive discussions centered on our commitment to protecting our members’ privacy.
We have reached an understanding with the FTC and have settled the lawsuit with plaintiffs. The resolution to both matters involves certain parameters for how we use Netflix data in any future research programs.
In light of all this, we have decided to not pursue the Netflix Prize sequel that we announced on August 6, 2009.
This is very sad news. The first Netflix Prize did a lot of good in showing how combinations of different approaches can work better than any individual approach, and also in showing how difficult it is to find economically significant models for some types of recommendation systems. I, along with many, had looked forward to the new insights (and possible visibility for operations research) another Netflix Challenge would bring.
For now, we are left with predicting murders in Philadelphia. Unless someone finds privacy concerns there.