Social networking sites to be held accountable for users privacy

Social networking sites to be held accountable for users privacy

A committee of European data protection regulators, known as the Article 29Working Party said that Twitter, Facebook and other social networking are ’data controllers’ and should therefore offer users privacy-friendly settings by default and provide easy and visible access to a complaints process on their home page.

Previously social networking sites were merely considered ‘data processors’. This new ruling addresses issues around social networking services as well as third-party developers having access to users personal data.  The Article 29 Working Party say their new postition reflects the fact that social networking sites are increasingly acting on behalf of companies and associations or in pursuit of commercial, political or charitable goals.

It is also worth noting that the opinion states that sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter should clearly inform users of their identity, and provide comprehensive information about the purposes and different ways in which they intend to process personal data. They should also offer privacy-friendly settings by default and provide easy and visible access to a complaints process on their home page.

Hopefully these new ‘rules’ will provide sufficient preotection for consumers without stifling the exciting potential that social networking sites offer.

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