Privacy, Borders, and the Internet

I was reading an article about Facebook and Canada’s Privacy Commissioner today. In a nut shell the article says that Canada’s Privacy Commissioner doesn’t meet Canada’s privacy laws. Facebook apparently disputes this but whether or not it does or does not isn’t the point of my post. This article has reminded me of others before it, only the names have changed.

What happens is a social networking site or other Web site is created in one country and because citizens of another country use it, they seem to be expected to live up to the second countries privacy (or other) laws. Now I don’t know if Facebook has an operation in Canada or not, but I know that other past stories I’ve read had countries (or states) taking or threating legal action against Web sites that did not have any operations in their jurisdiction. This is just madness and has to stop. I’m not saying Facebook has the world’s best privacy model. I agree they should do more to protect users privacy but you can’t expect a Web site operator to know and follow the laws of 195 countries not to mention laws of various territories, states, etc. that make up these countries. As long as the privacy terms are disclosed and follow the laws of the country the site is incorporated in, it should be up to the user to determine if the privacy is adequate. With the never ending news stories of lost laptops with social security numbers and other personal data, the privacy of Facebook is not really a huge concern for me. I just figure that everything I put on there may at some point be seen by friends, enemies, criminals. people who couldn’t care less, employers, and my mom.

Really, what do you need for a Facebook account now-a-days, an e-mail address? Sure they say to use a real name but I know many people who don’t and you can easily get a pseudo-anonymous e-mail address. In other words, everything you post on Facebook is what you decided to make available to at least a limited public sphere of friends. Whenever you give something to friends such as a phone number or tell them a tale of your latest adventure you can, or should, consider that they will share that with their friends. No matter what the policy is, even if it lives up to Canada’s privacy policy (or any country’s policy) will not save you from yourself. Users of social networking and other Web sites need to keep this in mind and not post or share anything that they would have a problem with being public.

1 Comment

  1. Edward Corrado (ecorrado) 's status on Monday, 17-Aug-09 17:48:11 UTC - said,

    August 17, 2009 at 13:08:14

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