May 18, 2011

Changing societal norms conflict with internet privacy

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

California is considering legislation that would drastically change the way users, especially those under the age of 18, share information on social networking sites, but while any site with social networking capabilities has the potential for abuse, changing societal trends play a bigger role in the personal information available on the internet.

Things are released today that would have been considered shameful 50 years ago.  This doesn’t mean that the world ended, it just means that it changed, and this means changes for privacy.

These changes in what we want to release and what we want to keep private is partially driven by changes in technology, but also partially driven by the desires of users.

The reality is that social norms change the debate over content and privacy.  Human choice has to enter into it – and that includes choice for kids.  We don’t deny teens free speech rights because they’re kids, and we shouldn’t deny them the ability to exercise that right online.

Thierer blogs at The Technology Liberation Front.