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The first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference took place twenty years ago, but their remit to explore the impact of the Internet, computers and communications technologies on society has never been more pertinent than in our social sharing era. Last week's meeting, held in San Jose CA, brought together more than 250 privacy advocates, computer scientists, lawyers, government representatives, and corporate technologists to ponder the impact of social media on privacy. One of the conference outcomes was a basic set of user rights around social media, fourteen principles set out in plain language to articulating user expectations for vendors of social media sites and available to read at http://cfp.acm.org/wordpress/?p=495. Among the demands are support for privacy-enhancing technologies, a right to know how personal data is being used, and improved predictability - letting customers know before major changes are made to how their personal data might be viewed. In keeping with their ideals of transparency, CFP webcast its debate and the voting on the draft Social Media Bill of Rights and invited input via Twitter, and the principles themselves were edited in real time using Google Docs. According to a story on SiliconValley.com (http://digbig.com/5bbttt), corporate attendees like Google and Facebook were invited to participate in the conference but not in the voting. CFP is in a tenuous position; make the guidelines too strict and social media companies will argue that it's impossible to comply, too weak and privacy advocates will call them toothless. Now that the principles have been developed by CFP, they have been opened up for public comment - ironically, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CFPBillOfRights). What do you think - do these proposals go to far, or not far enough?

 

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