California legislation watch: social media

The Chronicle recently reported on a new bill that would impact social networking and privacy.  Under the proposal, sites would have to allow users to establish their own privacy settings, and set defaults to be private. I think that this legislation is going to be one of many around the country.  California has always be a leader in privacy legislation and though the wording of this legislation on its face seems straightforward, anytime the government starts to reach into the operation of the Internet, it can have a much greater impact than anticipated.


This is exactly the argument that is being made by many Silicon Valley companies.


According to the Chronicle, Tammy Cota, the executive director of the Internet alliance trade association, states the bill “ would force users to make decisions about privacy and visibility of all information well before they even used the service for the first time, and in such a manner that they are less likely to pay attention and process the information.”

Though I’m not sure I completely buy into that argument – I do believe there should be some baseline about the ability for users to control the privacy.  I think this legislation will need more tweaking before it can go live. Ideally, if we’re going to address this issue, I think it is best addressed at a federal level.

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