A Bill of Rights for Social Network Users

Kurt Opsahl at EFF has a good follow up to his call for Facebook to follows its declared principles. He has posted a short bill of privacy rights specifically for those using social networks.

  1. The Right to Informed Decision-Making
  2. The Right to Control
  3. The Right to Leave

Read the full post for an excellent explanation of each.

I think we’ve already seen a good example of how the first could be implemented. The problem with the second is that Facebook thinks it is already providing this. It is probably going to take a mass exodus, not a simple proposition, to wake Facebook up to the disparity between its views of the control it is providing and the actual demands being made by privacy advocates and its own users.

The right to leave stumbles on a similar definitional issue. As Opsahl clearly addresses, what a provider does to honor a “deletion” is rarely what we expect when we jump through the necessary hoops to delete our accounts. We deserve for there to be no surprise around this particular function of a service. Unfortunately, on his other point about deletion, being able to take our data with us, Facebook has proven willing to fight through a variety of means to prevent that.

This is a good, modest list, one that I think sets a clear goal towards which we can strive. I don’t think that fight is going to be very easy, based on Facebook’s actions to date. I am far more hopeful that competitors will start to flourish and that they will recognize that this bill of rights should be a key differentiator for them to help in attracting users away from Facebook.

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