Facebook, Google: ‘Plain Language’ Privacy Settings Unconstitutional

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A proposal from a California lawmaker to force social media websites to explain privacy settings in “plain language” has drawn the ire of some of the world’s most popular and powerful online firms.

Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter and over a dozen other media companies have co-signed a letter “strongly opposing” the bill introduced by State Senator Ellen Corbett, arguing that the shift would actually decrease users’ overall privacy and potentially damage the state’s technology sector.

According to Corbett, the Social Networking Privacy Act (SB 242) which would call for a default privacy setting for any person in California signing up for a social networking site is designed to provide more front-end transparency for users.

The bill may also be a bummer for the kiddies: it would give parents the right to order the removal within 48 hours of any information about their children under 18 years of age from being displayed.

With violators facing fines of up to $10,000 for each violation, tech giants are going on the offensive.

The letter from Facebook and other firms calls SB 242 “unnecessary,” claiming that the bill would not only hinder growth in the California tech sector, but that it may potentially violate First Amendment rights.

“By hiding from view of all existing users information until they made a contrary choice, the State of California would be significantly limiting those usersʼ ability to “freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects,” the letter argued.

Facebook recently introduced an “instant personalization” to allow its users who log into websites like Yelp can click “like” next to a company or service and have that information shared with their Facebook friends from both within Yelp and within Facebook.


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