California Politicians Want To Force All Social Networks To Be Private By Default
from the and-to-delete-content dept
We keep seeing “privacy” laws being proposed by politicians who don’t seem to recognize the unintended consequences of what they’re proposing. The latest comes from my home state of California, where a bill is making its way through the legislature that would require the default settings on social networks be to keep everything private. On top of that, it would require that sites remove any personally identifying information — including photos — within 48 hours of a user’s request.
You can recognize why a politician (or even individuals) might like the sound of this without thinking through what it might actually mean. In the bill itself social networking websites are defined as:
an Internet Web-based service that allows an individual to construct a public or partly public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom the individual shares a connection, and view and traverse his or her list of connections and those made by others in the system.
This is trimmed down from a longer, more vague, description, but it’s still troublesome. For example, Techdirt allows people to create public profiles. While we don’t have a system to let people share connections, we’ve certainly had people ask about it, and I know other blog sites have enabled similar capabilities. But, at the same time, our long-standing policy is that we don’t remove comments from people. Yet, if this law passes, we’d run the risk of $10,000 for potential violations.
The thing is, while there may be serious privacy risks on certain websites, this bill doesn’t really address any of them. Instead, it seems to pick a random, non-existent problem, and try to solve it. Take, for example, Twitter. It would clearly fall under this law, but the whole point of Twitter (for the most part) is to be able to communicate publicly. Why force all new users to default to a “private setting”?