May 17th, 2011

Facebook, Google, Twitter, Formally Oppose California Social Networking Bill

Yahoo News

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

In addition to opposing the sentiment of the legislation, the group charges it is unconstitutional and threatens it could be damaging to the California economy.

The proposed law, as we’ve previously written, would require social networks to be private by default and make users choose privacy settings before they complete registration. It would also make it easier for parents to remove content from their children’s social network accounts.

Here’s a summary of the group’s criticisms and contentions:

* Asking users to make privacy choices at the outset–the group calls this “privacy shrink wrap”–will result in bad and overly broad decisions. The Federal Trade Commission recently said that it’s best practice to ask users to make privacy decisions on an item-by-item basis so they can understand the context.
* Users are already setting their privacy settings themselves, and don’t seem to have had problems with social networks failing to remove content after it’s been requested.
* Many social networking companies are based in California, and implementing these practices would significantly impact their businesses at a time when the state’s economy is in shambles.
* SB 242 is unconstitutional because it interferes with freedom of speech and interstate commerce. Quote: “By hiding from view of all existing usersʼ information until they made a contrary choice, the State of California would be significantly limiting those usersʼ ability to “freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects.”

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