... dating and similar websites.
Under a first-of-its-kind proposal [SB242], social-networking sites would have to allow users to establish their privacy settings when registering on the site - rather than after they sign-up. New members could view their profile and decide in advance what information would be public. Sites would also have to set user defaults to 'Private'.
Needless to say, the draft bill - authored by Senator Ellen Corbett [Democrat-San Leandro] is vehemently opposed by most in the internet industry.
Although Facebook has not yet formally objected to the bill, Corbett alleges that the social-networking giant has worked in "stealth mode" to oppose it.
The bill would require social sites to explain their privacy controls in "plain language" with willful violations of the law resulting in a $10,000 fine for each violation.
Says Corbett:"You shouldn't have to sign in and give up your personal information before you get to the part where you say, 'Please don't share my personal information'."
The bill also would require social-networking sites to remove personally identifying information if requested by a user and/or the parent of a user under 18.
Unsurprisingly, the bill is facing fierce opposition from online companies who argue it to be both unconstitutional and unworkable. They also claim that such a measure actually would decrease privacy for those who use social networking sites.
The bill passed through a legislative committee last week and is now headed to the Senate floor, where it will face an even more intense assault from the industry.
Tammy Cota, executive director of the Internet Alliance trade association, claims the law would have myriad unintended consequences.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the measure, Cota argues that it "would force users to make decisions about privacy and visibility of all information well before they even used the service for the first time, and in such a manner that they are less likely to pay attention and process the information."
Concerns about the bill's impact and the possibility it might drive internet businesses out of the state, is resulting in opposition among some lawmakers.
Toeing a predictable party line, Senator Sam Blakeslee [Republican-San Luis Obispo] said a single mid-level manager who willfully violates the provisions for one million users would expose his/her employer to $10 billion in fines.
Blakeslee also argues that the state Capitol is the wrong place to address online privacy.
"I think it is certainly something that should be addressed at the national level. That's the appropriate place to deal with internet laws," he said.