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Proposed CA Law on Social Networking Privacy and Facebook for Kids

July 19, 2011 at 12:03 PM

kids on facebookEvery parent knows that Facebook for kids and children on social networking sites need to vigilantly safeguard their privacy.  Apparently lawmakers know that too, and legislators in California are proposing a new bill aimed at protecting the privacy of social networking users.

Initially, the proposed bill only applied to users under 18, but that provision has since been struck and the bill would now apply to users across the board regardless of age. It would require social networking websites to:

    • Establish tight default security settings that reveal nothing more than the name and city of the user

    • Explain privacy options in “plain language” that is easily understood

    • Make selecting privacy settings a mandatory part of the registration process

    • Remove any personally identifying information within 48 hours of request by the user or an underage user's parents

Under the proposed legislation, social networks that don't conform to any of these rules would be fined $10,000.

Social networks and others who oppose the bill say that it is unreasonable to expect a user to fully understand all the applications and ramifications of security settings before they've ever used the site, that it's harder to explain all privacy options in “plain language” than lawmakers assume, and that sites have no way to verify the parenthood of people who request that the information about a minor be taken offline.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the bill, the message is that social networking privacy settings are not getting the attention that they deserve. Parents don't have to wait for a law; they should start a conversation about privacy settings right now. What are your child's privacy settings? Are they still using the default settings? Do they even know what those are?

-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans

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Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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