Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how the introduction of new communication channels facilitates interactive information sharing and collaboration between various actors over social networking services and how social networking fits in the existing European legal framework on data protection. The paper also aims to discuss some specific data protection issues, focusing on the role of the relevant actors, using the example of photo tagging. Design/methodology/approach – Privacy in social networks is one of the main concerns for providers and users. This paper examines the role of the main actors in social networking, i.e. the providers and the users, scrutinised under the light of the European data protection legislation. Specifically, how social networking service providers deal with users' privacy and how users handle their personal information, if this manipulation is complied with the respective legislation and how “tagging”, one of the most familiar services provided by the social networking providers, may cause privacy risks. Findings – Social networking is one of the most remarkable cultural phenomena that has blossomed in the Web 2.0 era. They enable the connection of users and they facilitate the exchange of information among them. However, the users reveal vast amounts of personal information over social networking services, without realising the privacy and security risks arising from their actions. The European data protection legislation could be used as a means for protecting the users against the unlawful processing of their personal information, although a number of problems arise regarding its applicability. Originality/value – The paper discusses some privacy concerns involved in social networks and examines how social networking service providers and users deal with personal information with regard to the European data protection legislation.
Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2010
Keywords: Privacy; Social networks; Data security; Law; European Union
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