Making news this week is California’s potential bill that would force social networks like Facebook to let parents access their child’s account(s) and require privacy settings to be set at the highest level by default. Proposed by Senator Ellen Corbett, the “Social Networking Privacy Act” or SB 242 was initially introduced in February and is now on its way to the Senate. In addition to parental access to Facebook accounts, they would also be able to request that specific content be removed from their child’s pages. If social networks fail to delete requested photos, text or other content they will receive a $10,000 fine. Corbett’s argument for this legislation is that “technology is evolving to encourage the disclosure of information that was formerly discreet (like location), and to enable the sharing of information even when not sitting in front of a traditional computer (like from mobile phones).” Furthermore, she recognizes that these new ways to share information can pose a threat to privacy when that information is being posted, stored and collected in the wrong ways.
While online safety is definitely a growing concern for parents, SB 242 has not been met with full support. Facebook rep Andrew Noyes said, “This legislation is a serious threat both to Facebook’s business in California” and Technet stated that the “bill would do significant damage to California’s technology sector by ‘drastically limiting’ social networking sites’ growth potential.” A possible compromise between Corbett’s argument and the opinions coming out against it is that while parents should always have some kind of monitoring system in place to keep track of what their kids are doing on social networks, kids should also have some kind of independence and privacy. It makes sense that this bill is perceived as somewhat extreme by Facebook and other social networking and technology companies, as the point of social networking is to connect and maintain relationships online. But if parents and kids find some kind of balance between the child’s online independence and the parents’ awareness of what’s going on, hopefully a bill like this won’t be considered to be so crucial.
What is your opinion of this legislation? Would you like to have more control of your child’s social networking activities?