Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights: Yay or Nay?

    April 10, 2011

With all the privacy concerns over the last year, it is not really surprising that Social Networking User Bill of Rights have been proposed. Although the idea of this type of Bill of Rights has been around for some time, no idea has ever had the power to stick.

Do you like the idea of a social networking user bill of rights? Tell us why or why not.

A group of people representing various constituencies began to pen the Bill of Rights at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference last year. Christina Gagnier, Partner with Gagnier Margossian LLP, is among the advocates of the proposal and said that they thought the rights would be an effective way to communicate the message since Americans are accustomed their own federal Bill of Rights.

The rights cover areas such as the amount of information that can be collected and shared with others, the act of deleting or modifying data without policy, data portability, and other challenging issues in the online social space. Another part of the debate around the Bill of Rights is whether or not it should be a government mandate.

Although some people believe that the government would better enforce it, others believe that it would only lead to more regulation, which is the same reaction that some people had regarding the “Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011.”

Privacy is tricky because many privacy laws in place today are specific to individual industries, such as HIPAA for the health industry. The online sector is especially difficult because it would be hard to determine whom the legislation directly impacts. For example, would it strictly be for social networks, or would corporations be included as well?

At this point, there are 14 Social Networking User Bill of Rights. Users can visit its site and vote in favor of them or against them. Additionally, they can propose new rights for review.

“I think we’ve jumpstarted the conversation, and so we just want everyone else to be involved,” said Gagnier.

How would such a Bill of Rights impact users?