By EDRi

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Soziale Netzwerke: Mangelnder Datenschutz für Kinder | http://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_9.13_Soziale_Netzwerke_Mangelnder_Datenschutz_fuer_Kinder?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20110708]

Most social networks fail to provide an appropriate level of protection for
minors’ privacy says a report recently published by the European Commission
on the implementation of “Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU”, a
self-regulatory agreement brokered by the Commission in 2009 to keep
children safe online.

After several social networks have been tested on behalf of the European
Commission during December 2010 and January 2011, the conclusion is that
only two social networking sites (Bebo and MySpace) have default settings to
make minors’ profiles accessible only to their approved list of contacts and
only 4 sites (Bebo, MySpace, Netlog and SchuelerVZ) make sure that minors
can be contacted by default by friends only.

Appropriate safety information for minors is however provided by a majority
of the 14 social networks tested, which also respond to requests for help
and prevent minors’ profiles from being searched via external search
engines.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital
Agenda, has shown her concern and disappointment in this matter and said she
would discuss with the companies and encourage them to use settings that
better protect the teenagers using these sites. “I am disappointed that most
social networking sites are failing to ensure that minors’ profiles are
accessible only to their approved contacts by default. I will be urging them
to make a clear commitment to remedy this in a revised version of the
self-regulatory framework we are currently discussing. This is not only to
protect minors from unwanted contacts but also to protect their online
reputation. Youngsters do not fully understand the consequences of
disclosing too much of their personal lives online. Education and parental
guidance are necessary, but we need to back these up with protection until
youngsters can make decisions based on full awareness of the consequences,”
said Kroes.

A worrying fact is that even grown-ups are not very aware of how they should
protect their privacy on the online social networks. According to a recent
survey carried out by Harris Interactive on more than 2000 US adult
subjects, almost 70% of users of social networking websites say they’re
concerned about security but most of them don’t do much to protect
themselves.

Digital Agenda: only two social networking sites protect privacy of minors’
profiles by default (21.06.2011)
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/762&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Social network sites fail to protect minors: EU report (21.06.2011)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/21/us-eu-privacy-socialnetworking-idUSTRE75K42H20110621

Social Networking: Survey finds gaps between user security concerns and
behavior (23.06.2011)
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jun/23/social-networking-survey-finds-gaps-between-user-s/