Social Network Users' Rights Come to Forefront in Wake of Continued NSA Revelations

The resurgence of the conversation around a "social network users' bill of rights" has been fueled by the international trampling of user rights across the Internet by both governments and the private sector. Since the first wave of Snowden's revelations were made public, the NSA scandal has revealed that intelligence capabilities and reach are greater than we may have first imagined. While the public knowledge of privacy mishaps and invasions has grown dramatically over the past five years, the scope of the NSA's activities have more people uneasy about how social networks treat their information.

While the concept of a social network users' bill of rights has been socialized on the web since 2010 and was followed by a version from the White House, the most recent efforts are in the form of a petition to the United Nations to adopt an international bill of digital rights.

The types of rights that have been discussed over the past several years vary slightly depending on the proposal, but the 2010 draft that was created at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference provides a template and discussion springboard that can help shape the continued debate.

Rights included the following expectations from social network sites:

1. Honesty: Honor your privacy policy and terms of service.

2. Clarity: Make sure that policies, terms of service, and settings are easy to find and understand.

3. Freedom of speech: Do not delete or modify my data without a clear policy and justification.

4. Empowerment: Support assistive technologies and universal accessibility.

5. Self-protection: Support privacy-enhancing technologies.

6. Data minimization: Minimize the information I am required to provide and share with others.

7. Control: Let me control my data, and don't facilitate sharing it unless I agree first.

8. Predictability: Obtain my prior consent before significantly changing who can see my data.

9. Data portability: Make it easy for me to obtain a copy of my data.

10. Protection: Treat my data as securely as your own confidential data unless I choose to share it, and notify me if it is compromised.

11. Right to know: Show me how you are using my data and allow me to see who and what has access to it.

12. Right to self-define: Let me create more than one identity and use pseudonyms. Do not link them without my permission.

13. Right to appeal: Allow me to appeal punitive actions.

14. Right to withdraw: Allow me to delete my account, and remove my data.

While the efforts to adopt international standards are paramount, pressure on Congress and state legislatures in terms of meaningful privacy regulation is sure to mount as we head into an election year.