The law related to social media space and privacy is a tough one and is changing daily. As we’ve discussed extensively in class, and as mentioned repeatedly in this panel titled, Intellectual Property Issues in Social Media, and others, the technology is simply evolving too fast for the law. Yet, as discussed and encouraged throughout this week, it almost defaults to the coders to allow for and encourage responsible use; giving users clear cut options on security and privacy.

One panelist mentioned that 25 pages for policy changes is fine for lawyers, but users really want and need a bulleted recap and a link to the full text if its something they are super into or have tons of time for. Another thing to consider for responsible development is default settings. Many times these settings are bent to what works best for the corporation, not the user. Consider the most widely accepted settings and make those the defaults was one panelist’s advice to the crowd. 

EXTREMES

Privacy should always be considered, especially in the law. The speed at which technology is outpacing the law continues to exponentially increase. For example, NetFlix can’t share movies you rent because of a law from the 80s, protecting privacy. So even if you opted into something like that, it becomes illegal for them to create social sharing of what you’re renting. 

While it was joked about all week, that anything you did would be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms, it was funny because its true. In fact, one panelist gave the example of a privacy hack friends did even in college, because of the rise of cell phone cameras. His friends would have a massive house party, but would only drink in a single room, in the dark, so nobody could take pictures. Seems a little extreme, right? But the point is, we’ll always find ways around the system. 

CONSIDERATIONS

How is it social without sharing information? Privacy issues have to be balanced. Currently, user data equals currency, and that tends to swing companies to the side for less privacy protections, so the burden gets placed on the user. But as one panelist said, “there are other ways money can be made.” We just have to be more creative. Instead of forcing users to exchange personal data for experience, the challenge for the future becomes, finding a way to profit that’s not tied to exploiting the user’s personal privacy. 

For users, the advice is this, know what your privacy rights are, know when you’re signing them away in a terms of service agreement and make a point to assert your privacy rights and demand more from digital services. It all comes back to one point discussed in class, without continually challenging the encroachment on your rights, we risk steadily losing them because companies will continue to push the envelope. 

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