LOBBYIST GOING FOR BORE AGAINST TWO SENATE BILLS; SITES SAY GIVING TOO INFO IS NOT ALWAYS BAD
Facebook and Google are just getting into the lobbyist game in Washington which is surprisingly for two companies worth so much to Wall Street and users on Main Street. The two tech giant’s rivalry has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, but as the Wall Street Journal notes they are banding together to thwart two bills in the State Senate, one authored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett.
|SB 242 hopes to protect underage
users of social media like Facebook.
An objection by various social media companies to Corbett’s SB 242 on May 16 said the bill “gratuitously singles out social networking sites without demonstration of any harm” while adding “There is no indication that California users of social networking sites are less sophisticated or more vulnerable than those Californians who do not use social networking sites, or that social networking sites are failing to appropriately communicate existing choices to their users.”
Corbett’s bill would, though, is tailored towards protecting minors who may be inclined to offer more personal information than parents would like. It would allow parents to request information on their underage children and while forcing sites to allow users to make changes to their privacy settings after signing up for the service.
Social media companies like Facebook have stood firm against Corbett in the past. It squashed a similar bill by the San Leandro senator last year. Recently, she charged lobbyists for Facebook for operating in “stealth mode” alleging they passed talking points among members of the judiciary committee. Doing so without registering an objection is against the rules.
The strong opposition by Silicon Valley firms against legislating privacy stems from Web 2.0 adherence to the free flow of personal information from users often for their own benefit. Information on a users preferences for steep discounts for trendy smocks or loyal fanaticism toward the local baseball franchise can help customers. “It may sound paternalistic, but I think people need to understand that sharing information about themselves doesn’t necessarily bring them any harm,” wrote Larry Magid, a tech writer for the Huffington Post.
As Magid points out, the real problem with legislating the Internet on a state-by-state basis is its not really possible. They don’t call it the World Wide Web for nothing.