With social networking sites proliferating across international boundaries, privacy and data protection concerns are becoming increasingly relevant. With these concerns in mind, the Article 29 Working Party, an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy, adopted an opinion on online social networking on June 12, 2009.

As noted

According to a new, partially-published California Court of Appeal decision, there is no cause of action for invasion of privacy under the California Constitution where a plaintiff’s myspace.com posting is republished in a newspaper.   In Moreno et al. v. Hanford Sentinel, Inc., et al., F054138, slip op. (Cal. Ct. App.

On May 16, 2008 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed with a number of other courts, holding that the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) (47 U.S.C. Sec. 230) protects social networking websites from liability with respect to negligence claims based on third-party content published on the website and the consequences stemming from such content. In Doe v. MySpace, Inc., No. 07-50345, 2008 WL 2068064 (5th Cir. May 16, 2008), the plaintiff argued that MySpace negligently failed to implement appropriate technological safeguards to prevent the plaintiff, a 13-year-old, from registering on MySpace. The plaintiff lied in her registration materials, pretending to be 18 years old, and ignored MySpace’s warnings against sharing personal information on the website by posting her phone number. According to the plaintiff, the technological safeguards would have prevented her from meeting and being sexually assaulted by another MySpace user.

Kids like social networking sites, most notably MySpace and Facebook. So it is not surpising that law enforcement is scrutinizing how the sites protect children. Recent subpoenas issued to Facebook by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram are illustrative.

Both subpoenas sought information about Facebook’s Internet safety and security policies. The New York subpoena, issued last month, also sought information concerning Facebook’s complaint resolution procedures. In its subpoena cover letter to Facebook, Attorney General Cuomo noted Facebook’s public representations concerning how it responds to reports of pornographic material and inappropriate contact with minors.  It also described its undercover investigation of Facebook. According to the letter, the investigation revealed pornographic and other inappropriate content readily available on the site. In addition, after investigators set up profiles as young teenage users, they received inappropriate sexual advances. The investigators filed complaints about these issues through Facebooks’ complaint procedures. The letter notes various instances of non-responsiveness or delayed response to such complaints. The New Jersey subpoena issued earlier this month, described here, sought information from Facebook concerning convicted New Jersey sex offenders that Facebook has identified as site users.  Facebook previously informed the New Jersey Attorney General it had removed sex offenders with profiles matching individuals listed on the New Jersey sex offender registry. Attorney General Milgram also sent letters to eleven other social networking sites requesting they compare their registrants against the state’s sex offender list.