Social Giants Oppose Privacy Bill

(The Hosting News) – A proposed bill in California by state Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) seeks to apply sweeping privacy changes to online social sites including Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Skype. However, the legislation has the sites unified in opposition.

The bill would essentially force such social networking sites to make all user information private by default, thus requiring sites like Facebook to receive user approval through privacy settings before any entered data could be displayed publicly. Such user approval would typically be made by the user upon registration.

A user must currently display a name and photo when they have manually made Facebook settings as private as possible. The legislation would also give parents the independent ability to request that Facebook and other sites remove any information about their children. The sites would then be required to remove such information in a timely manner.

While the bill notes that removal of information could be done directly through their child’s social networking page, the bill takes into account that information on the child could be made available on other users’ pages.

Meanwhile, the online companies noted their opposition to the proposed legislation by sending a letter to Senator Corbett.

The companies stated that they believed the legislation would decrease overall consumer privacy, that it was unnecessary, would hurt the technology sector, and was unconstitutional.

The letter specifically stated that the law, “would require social networking sites to force users to make decisions about privacy and visibility of all of their information well before they have ever used the service. Known as “privacy shrink wrap”, this practice results in users clicking quickly through the available options without contextual understanding of or serious thought to the case-by-case implications of the choices being made”.

Corbett has rejected the social networking giants’ claims and defended the proposal as being straightforward.

The bill was initially proposed in February but just recently passed state senate committee.

You can view the language of the actual bill here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_0201-0250/sb_242_bill_20110502_amended_sen_v98.html

You can view the letter sent to Senator Corbett here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55576694/SB242CoalitionFloorOpppose

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