11 May 2010

EU / US - TACD Resolution on Social Networking

Millions of social network users are being exposed to privacy risks and lack adequate control over their personal information, according to the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), a coalition of U.S. and European consumer advocacy groups. The TACD has adopted a new resolution criticizing the U.S. and European governments for failing to protect social network users from privacy and marketing abuses. Recent changes to Facebook’s policies reclassify user information that was previously protected, such as lists of friends, employment information, gender, geographic region, and film and literary preferences, as “publicly available.” Furthermore, the groups expressed concern about Facebook’s “instant personalization” feature and asserted that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Facebook users to exercise meaningful control over their data. TACD members are especially concerned about young people who use social network sites. The resolution calls for the U.S. and EU governments to prohibit social networks from targeting advertisements to children under 16 and to bar them from using online marketing practices that studies show can have a negative impact on individuals, particularly children – for instance, digital marketing of products that contribute to childhood obesity.