These Privacy Laws Could Drastically Change Your Social Life in 2013

Technology evolves faster than just about anything on the planet. The government isn’t quite so quick, though. This results in the government enforcing laws that are ages behind the development of mobile; thus, putting our security, privacy and rights at risk. For better or worse, the following laws are on the table to change your social life in 2013.

Apps Act

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Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, has proposed what’s called the “Apps Act.” This act would create stricter rules for advertisers and social media companies that can currently access your information or track your phone with impunity.

Among other things, the APPS Act would require developers to ensure apps have “consented terms and conditions, reasonable data security of collected data, and users with control to cease data collection by opting out of the service or deleting the user’s personal data to the greatest extent possible.”

The act focuses on regulating:

  • personal data potentially collected by apps
  • certain categories of personal data
  • whether companies can share personal information with third parties
  • how long companies can keep personal data

A lot of companies already adhere to these regulations. Others do whatever they can to make a few extra bucks; maybe not for long.

Social Media Privacy

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If you live in California, then you no longer have to worry that a potential employer will force you to disclose information about your online and social media accounts. A company’s hiring manager can’t, for instance, force an applicant to disclose his or her Facebook account name.

This might not sound like a big deal. After all, how hard is it to track someone down on Facebook? The law, which went into effect on January 1, 2013, however, also protects employees from disclosing information about blogs, emails, photographs, videos, podcasts, or text messages.

Employers can still hunt you down online without repercussions. They just can’t make you tell them anything about your activities. A word of advice: use your new Windows phone to set profiles to “private.”

More Online Protection

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At the end of 2012, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan signed a bill that’s very similar to California’s new law. It forbids employers and schools from soliciting information that will let them monitor or access online behavior.

The Michigan law essentially says that your employer can’t make you hand over your profile name and password. As if you would do that anyway, right? Well, some people have been turned down positions at companies, government agencies, and schools for standing up for their rights.

Delaware has passed a similar ban that includes public and private schools as well as employers. It insists that individuals be judged by their skills and abilities, not by what kind of shenanigans they enjoy online.

Better Security for All

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Cybercrime has become so problematic that many lawmakers want to enforce stricter encryption protocols that would make it harder for hackers to steal personal information from individuals using services and companies storing information on their servers.

That seems like another no-brainer, right? Well, a lot of cell phone service providers, application makers, and smartphone designers claim that it puts an unnecessary burden on them. More protection means higher prices.

Business won’t get much sympathy from consumers who have gotten tired of hearing about identity fraud and theft. The companies also express concerns about whether employees have the skills to eliminate and secure data properly.

What mobile device and social media laws do you hope to see (or see disappear) in the upcoming year?

About the Author

Kelsey Libert is a speaker, entrepreneur, and Internet enthusiast. She’s the chief development officer for a diverse website portfolio, where she runs the content development strategy and execution for several websites.

photo credit: Kaptain Kobold via photopin cc