Thursday, September 15, 2011

Facebook privacy regulation

Various countries have been trying to regulate conduct over social networking sites, particularly Facebook. A law in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for instance, could be interpreted to make posting and tagging a person's photos in Facebook without his or her consent illegal.

Further, the wording of UAE's cyberlaw is so vague, it risks penalizing millions of users in the UAE. The law penalizes persons who "violates family principles and values or publishes news or pictures in violation of the privacy of an individual’s private or family life, even if true, through the Internet or an information technology device."

Germany, on the other hand, has managed to make Facebook agree to sign a voluntary code of conduct to conform with the former's data privacy laws.

Of the two approaches in regulating data privacy in social networks, I think the latter is better. It's more enforceable and feasible to make service providers put safeguards in the way it facilitates interactions rather than to make certain interactions illegal. The latter presents the problem of detecting violations, and determining intent (in case it's a malum in se) to violate the law. It also opens the floodgates to harassment suits and adds to the clogging of court dockets.

Ixara Maroto, 13th post

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