Computing And Law Essay

1967 words - 8 pages

In this essay I am going to discuss and critically analyse whether or not existing data protection laws protect the privacy of individuals whose personal information has been disclosed on social networking sites.

Over the period of time social networking sites (SNS) have increased their popularity among people. There are various reasons of people using these sites. However, majority of SNS users are those people who use these sites for social networking e.g. chatting with friends, sharing their interests etc. These SNS users do not only have data relating to them but also the data of third parties. Many of these users do not take care of other people’s personal information, for example, they share their family and friends information with other strange people. It is not that only SNS users do not take essential care of others personal information, SNS themselves seems uninterested to protect personal information of its users.

What is personal information? According to (article 2 (a)) of the data protection Directive, the information that qualifies as personal information is “Information only qualifies as personal data if it directly or indirectly relates to an identified or identifiable natural person. In order to determine whether a person is identifiable, account should be taken of all the means likely to be reasonably used either by the controller or by any other person to identify the said person (recital 26). As a result, most information that is made available on a social network (messages, photos, personal preferences, lists of friends) qualifies as personal data”. (Eecke, P V., and Truyens, M, 2010)

Relation between the data protection Directive 95/46/EC and social networking sites is complex. Data protection directive only applies to those data controllers that process data within the European Union. In this case many social networking like mySpace and facebook can exempt themselves from data protection directive as they are outside European Union. Article 7 (a) of the data protection Directive 95/46/EC can also exempt these SNS from directive, Article 7(a) is that if the user have agreed his personal data relating to him can be processed then it can be processed by operators. SNS can use their privacy policy to get users consent to process their data. This is normally done by asking a user to agree with their terms and conditions. Which means a user of social networking site once agreed the terms and condition with the site while signing up for their service they give their consent to SNS to process their personal data. SNS user then cannot object if SNS shares their data with third parties as he has agreed with them to do so. Therefore, Social network users cannot rely on Article 7 (a) of the data protection directive 95/46/EC. It is not necessary that SNS will only depend on Article 7(a) of Directive 95/46/EC. They could sometime rely on Article 7(f) of the data protection directive in legitimate interest. The same reasons...

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