Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) counters revision on Child Privacy Laws

Facebook Inc(NASDAQ:FB) retaliated to a demand by the government to limit the use of the like button for children. The site retaliated by saying that the site does not have any control over the “likes” of the users, and that limiting the ability of users to click on the button was unfair, since it directly violated free speech and free expression of the users.

The Federal Trade Commission received a twenty-page letter from Facebook, through which the site objected to the order to limit a user’s ability to “like” ac certain page. The objections were geared towards the revisions suggested by Coppa, or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Facebook  said that its control over sites which used social plug-ins, was limited, and that the use of “like” buttons by these sites should not be said to be violating the child privacy laws.

The enforcement of the limitation of using the like-button would account to curbing of free speech and expression, which Facebook does not want to be liable for. It would be a violation of the constitutional rights of the users. And that the teens getting curbed into protected speech, as per the order, would be a violation of the first amendment.

While Facebook officially prohibits children under thirteen to sing up on Facebook, many children who are under the prescribed age do sign up, with help from other, older people. Coppa says that children under 13 should be made to produce written parental permission in order to sign up. But officially, Facebook cannot be blamed for violating the child privacy laws.

The revisions suggested for the child privacy laws should, and could apply to many other websites which are all over the internet. This can be done through the use of “cookies” which are used by sites to track the users’ travels in the internet.  Cookies ae what enables target-based advertisements. Depending on the kind of pages visited by the users and depending upon the kind of sites which the users frequent, advertisements are displayed upon their pages.

The “like” buttons are integrated with about nine million sites, which allows Facebook to track the pages a user goes to, even if the user does not click upon the like button. 

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