There are plenty of reasons to look with great suspicion upon advancing legislation in California that would impose detailed, strict privacy requirements on Facebook and other Web sites that collect personal information to facilitate social interaction.
The bill would essentially require users to set their privacy preferences at the time of registration, give site operators 48 hours to remove information upon request, and impose a $10,000 fine for each violation. You can read it here.
Addressing online privacy at the state level is simply a bad idea.
For starters: I wonder how California's regulations will differ from the ones that will be passed in Texas. And how the Texas law will differ from whatever emerges here in Massachusetts. And how that will stack up against Utah's. And you get the idea.
And don't make the mistake of thinking about such regulation strictly within the context of Facebook, Twitter and other brand-name social-networking sites. Social networking is being woven into the fabric of more and more sites and types of sites all the time. Proposals of the nature being considered in California, should they become law, will have enormous reach.
The California bill would require that social-networking sites allow parents to control the pages set up by their children.
As a parent of three future teenagers, the allure of the idea is obvious. However, it's difficult to imagine anything that would drive teenage use of the Internet deeper underground and all but guarantee that young people tell their parents nothing of what they're doing online. In short, the law of unintended consequences rules here.
Federal privacy regulation may be a necessary evil.
State regulation is worse than unnecessary.
This story, "California Bill Would Dictate Privacy on Facebook, Etc." was originally published by Network World.