May 18th, 2011

California proposed law cause of headache for social networks


Here’s a law in waiting in California that could change privacy on social networks for good but it also threatens the entire business model of corporate social networking sites.

The state of California wants to make it mandatory for the sites to let users chose privacy settings before they register for a website, in fact make the users’ accounts private by default as opposed to the present situation where users’ info is accessible in default settings. This would mean default settings would prohibit the public or private display of anything other than a user’s name and city without their consent.

The law, SB 242, wants the websites to write their privacy options ‘’in plain language’’ and display them in an ‘’easy-to-use format’’ and remove personally identifying information, including photos, within 48 hours of a user’s request. The law proposes a fine of up to $10,000 each time the website fails to do any of this.

Facebook, Google along with others are lobbying hard to quash the proposed law, , stating that it’ll be bad for California’s economy, but many experts feel otherwise.

California State Senate Leader Ellen Corbett, who proposed the bill, also accused Facebook of “stealth” lobbying against the bill without submitting a formal letter opposing it. However, Facebook said it had face to face discussions with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A coalition of internet companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Zynga, and Skype has submitted a formal letter of opposition to proposed California legislation that would mandate new privacy policies for social networking sites.

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