European Union Seeks Social Media Policies

By Erin Harrison November 28, 2011

The European Union is seeking to implement updated laws that would force social networks to be more open about how they operate, according to media reports.

According to a Reuters report, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Monday that social networks must become more open about how they operate.

According to Reding’s proposals, businesses including Internet service providers would have additional responsibilities, including having to inform users of what data about them are being collected, for what purpose and how data are stored.

“All social network service providers active in the EU must fully comply with EU data protection laws,” Reding said. “Companies have a specific responsibility when personal data is their main economic asset.”

Laws already in place in the EU date to 1995, Reuters said, well before Facebook and other social networking sites existed. According to Reuters, EU officials expect the draft legislation to be ready early next year, and after that, it could take up to 18 months for the bill to become law.

But 18 months may not be enough time, especially considering that European countries are not in agreement as to what constitutes privacy protection.

“Countries like France and Germany favor stronger protections for privacy, while Ireland, Britain and others prefer more market-friendly rules,” Reuters said.

According to the European Union, 41.7 million Europeans are regular users of social networking sites, predicting there will be 107.4 million by the end of 2012. Like everyone else, Europeans are using them to share personal and professional experiences, keep in contact with family and friends, and organize their social lives.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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