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Data Protection: The Challenges Facing Social Networking

Brigham International Law and Management Review, Vol. 6, pp. 127-152, 2010

26 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2010  

Daniel Garrie

Law & Forensics; Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

The Honorable Maureen Duffy-Lewis

Los Angeles Superior Court

Richard Gillespie

Independent

Rebecca Wong

Bournemouth University - Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM)

Date Written: May 31, 2010

Abstract

The popularity of social networking sites has increased dramatically over the past decade. A recent report indicated that thirty-eight percent of online users have a social networking profile. Many of these social networking site users (SNS users) post or provide personal information over the internet every day. According to the latest OfCom study, the average adult SNS user has profiles on 1.6 sites and most check their profiles at least once every other day. However, the recent rise in social networking activity has opened the door to the misuse and abuse of personal information through identity theft, cyber stalking, and undesirable screenings by prospective employers. Behavioral advertising programs have also misused personal information available on social networking sites. Society is now facing an important question: what level of privacy should be expected and required within the social networking environment? As social networking technology has raced forward, it has left corresponding legislation in the dust. Although several countries have enacted various laws governing personal data protection to address this growing problem, these data protection laws have remained sorely inadequate to protect personal information in the social networking environment. In this Article, we wish to focus our attention on the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC (DPD), which the European Commission enacted in 1995. It was drafted long before the web 2.0 era, and therefore without social networking in mind. As we will explain below, strictly applying the DPD to some SNS users - in particular, those acting as “data controllers” under the DPD - is highly problematic and impractical. To understand why, we will first explain more about the DPD - namely, its definitions and what it requires of those falling under the definition of “data controller.” Modest recommendations are also made to the current data protection framework to respond to social networking concerns.

Keywords: social networking, data protection

Suggested Citation

Garrie, Daniel and Duffy-Lewis, The Honorable Maureen and Gillespie, Richard and Wong, Rebecca, Data Protection: The Challenges Facing Social Networking (May 31, 2010). Brigham International Law and Management Review, Vol. 6, pp. 127-152, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1618403

Daniel B. Garrie

Law & Forensics ( email )

6506 3rd Ave NW
Suite C
Seattle, WA 98117
United States
855 529 2466 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.lawandforensics.com

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States

The Honorable Maureen Duffy-Lewis

Los Angeles Superior Court ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Richard Gillespie

Independent

No Address Available

Rebecca Wong (Contact Author)

Bournemouth University - Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM) ( email )

89 Holdenhurst Road
Bournemouth
Dorset, BH8 8EB
United Kingdom

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