Social-networking sites face new privacy battle

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California could require Facebook and other social networking sites to change their policies on privacy protection in the first proposal of its kind in the state Capitol is the opposition of much of the Internet industry.

Under the proposal, SB242 sites, social networks should allow users to set their privacy settings - as you could see his profile and what information would be public to everyone on the Internet - when they register to join the site rather than after joining. The sites also have to set the default values ​​it private so that users choose what information is public.

Currently, some sites such as Facebook, have default settings that make certain information - such as photos, biographical information and family information - available to everyone on the internet after a user registers, unless the user changes the settings for privacy.

And while Facebook has not been told the Legislature that it opposes, author of the bill, Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, said the social networking giant has been working in "stealth mode" to oppose to it.

The legislation would require that the privacy controls are explained in "plain language." deliberate violations of the law would lead to a fine of $ 10,000 for each violation.

"You do not have to sign and give up their personal information before you get to the part where you say, 'Please do not share my personal information'," Corbett said.

The bill would also require a social networking site to remove personally identifiable information from a user if requested and the request of a parent of a user under 18 years.

But the measure faces a strong momentum behind online companies arguing that the bill is unconstitutional and impracticable, and that this will actually reduce the privacy of people using social networking. The measure passed by a legislative committee last week and goes to the Senate, where it will face an intense assault on the industry.
Unintended Consequences

Tammy Cota, executive director of the trade association for Internet Alliance, including Google, eHarmony,, Facebook and other companies, said the law would have many unintended consequences.

The bill "would force users to make decisions about privacy and visibility of all information long before they even used the service for the first time, and so they are less likely to pay attention and process information, "Cota wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the measure.

Opponents argue it could lead users to set privacy settings that do not fully understand and make public the information you want to keep private.

However, Facebook has changed its configuration for new users in recent years, as in 2005, the privacy policy, "any personal information ... will be available to any user of the website that do not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in the privacy settings, "according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco organization that has monitored the changes.

The latest privacy policy, 2010 stipulates: "When connecting to an application or website will have access to information about you. The term includes the information you and the names of their friends, profile photos, gender, user IDs, links, and any other shared content through the 'All' privacy. ... The default privacy settings for certain types of information you post on Facebook is "Everyone."

When a new user on Facebook, the default shared with "everyone" update user status, pictures and blogs, biographical information, favorite quotes and family and relationships that are entered on the site. They are available to everyone on the Internet.

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