Walled gardens for minors

“The European Commission has announced that 17 of the leading web firms, including Facebook, Youtube and Myspace, have all signed the code which aims to reduce incidences of cyber bullying and grooming, and to ensure the protection of personal data. The firms will provide easily accessible ‘report abuse’ buttons and tighten up the privacy settings to prevent younger users’ details appearing on search engines.”

This is a self-regulatory approach. I wonder how it will work in practice?

Then there is something going on in the U.S.  “In January, MySpace announced that it had entered an agreement with 49 state attorneys general regarding the protection of the data of minors who are using its services. The deal is supposed to complement the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which protects the data of children under the age of 13, by creating standards for the protection of data for teenagers between the age of 14 and 17. ” One of the changes includes “MySpace will create a closed section called “high school” for all users who are under the age of 18.

A choice to twitter

I just love this article on Wired by Steve Levy. He talks about how he feels about social networking…i.e. he loves it, but there are some costs in that he feels guilty when he doesn’t contribute. The most important message in this article is in the last paragraph when Steve mentioned his contact with the head of Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

‘We hear a lot about privacy violations by Big Brother and Little Brother. But what if the fault lies not in our siblings but in ourselves? For a reality check, I called Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and an utter hawk when it comes to protecting personal data. He told me to relax. “One aspect of privacy is the ability to project yourself as you choose,” he says. Services like Facebook and Twitter are strictly opt-in, so as long as the information isn’t divvied out to marketers, Rotenberg is OK with it: “That is freedom.”‘

Are we moving towards that transparent society as predicted in David Brinns book in 1999 (The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?)? A worthwhile read incidentally!

Does it really matter? Is it only the choice that is important, which include the option to “opt-in” rather than having to “opt-out”, and of course all of this twittering and social networking is fine so long as the marketers don’t get their greedy hands on it 🙁