EFF’s thoughts on the rights of social network users

Since the latest Facebook changes to its privacy settings, the issue of privacy on social networks has become a hot topic. Social networks have become a way to communicate and to share information – sensitive information! – with the people in our life.

Putting aside the fact that Facebook may or may not backpedal on the recent changes due to public outcry, the people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have begun thinking about the rights that social network services should definitely provide their users. “Users are not just a commodity, and their rights must be respected,” says Kurt Opsahl.

So far, they have come up with three principles that should provide the basis of privacy protection on these networks:

1. The Right to informed decision-making – it means clear and understandable privacy choices so that users know immediately which piece of information can be accessed by whom, not to mention getting notified if information about them is requested by legal means by the government or a private party.

2. The Right to control – the users should be able to retain control over the information they put into the network, and if the service wants to use any of this data, they should ask for permission from the user. The services should also ask for permission if they make changes that will affect the users’ privacy settings without their knowledge.

3. The Right to leave – if they want to leave, users should be able to delete their accounts and/or the data in it without having to worry that the data will be kept (and used!) by the service. Also, these users should be able to move the uploaded information from one service to another in an easy and efficient manner.

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