Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

6/25/2009
01:57 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

EU Group: Social Networks, Thirty-Party App Developers Subject To EU Privacy Laws

I just took a close look at the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party's opinion report on online social networking. While some of its recommendations are what you'd expect, others came as a surprise.

I just took a close look at the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party's opinion report on online social networking. While some of its recommendations are what you'd expect, others came as a surprise.The report (PDF) "principally is intended to provide guidance to SNS [social network service] providers on the measures that need to be in place to ensure compliance with EU law." Social network providers, both inside and outside of the EU, ought to pay heed to this report -- but they're not the only ones. The app developers who use the social networks' APIs to build apps for those platforms should also give it a close read. So should users, whether you use the service for personal reasons or use it for professional reasons -- particularly if your organization is using social networks for marketing purposes.

The Working Party is an independent European advisory board on data protection and privacy. Some of the Party's recommendations are not out of the blue: making users very aware of how their data is being used; more secure default settings; deleting all a user's account data immediately after they cancel their account, etc.

Others, however, are less expected.

For example, the Party recommends that SNS should allow users to adopt a pseudonym. Although rarely enforced, one of Facebook's terms of service is that user's must use their real name. (I'll give Facebook this: Last year I found users named "Fake Name," "Faketh Nameth," and "Betsy Faken Namer," to name a few. I did not, however, find any such people in my Facebook people search today.)

The Party's rationale for the "allow pseudonyms" recommendation is "Article 6 para 1 letter c) of the [EU] Data Protection Directive requires the data to be 'adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are collected and/or further processed.' In this context, it can be observed that SNS may need to register some identifying data about members but does not need to publish the real name of members on the Internet."

The strong privacy rules also apply to those miscreants whose dirty deeds get them banned from these SNS. The recommendations say "Some SNS also retain identification data of users who were banned from the service, to ensure that they cannot register again. In that case, these users must be informed that such processing is taking place. In addition, the only information that may be retained is identification information, and not the reasons why these persons were banned. This information should not be retained for more than one year." It is not clear to me whether by "this information" they mean only the "reasons why these persons were banned" or the identification information as well. I've contacted the Working Party to get some clarification.

The Party also says that third-party application developers may in some cases be considered "data controllers" which means they may also be subject to these privacy mandates. For example, the app developers are advised not to perform any operations on imported user contacts' data other than personal usage.

Further, they advise the social network services and marketers that any "behavioral marketing"--which selects which ads to serve up to users based on observation and analysis of those users' activity over time--is rather naughty as well.

Note well, these are recommendations, not official mandates. They're not made to get in trouble; rather they're made to keep you out of trouble.

Now ain't that neighborly? Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-22861
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-03
An improper access control vulnerability was identified in GitHub Enterprise Server that allowed authenticated users of the instance to gain write access to unauthorized repositories via specifically crafted pull requests and REST API requests. An attacker would need to be able to fork the targeted ...
CVE-2021-22862
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-03
An improper access control vulnerability was identified in GitHub Enterprise Server that allowed an authenticated user with the ability to fork a repository to disclose Actions secrets for the parent repository of the fork. This vulnerability existed due to a flaw that allowed the base reference of ...
CVE-2021-22863
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-03
An improper access control vulnerability was identified in the GitHub Enterprise Server GraphQL API that allowed authenticated users of the instance to modify the maintainer collaboration permission of a pull request without proper authorization. By exploiting this vulnerability, an attacker would b...
CVE-2020-10519
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-03
A remote code execution vulnerability was identified in GitHub Enterprise Server that could be exploited when building a GitHub Pages site. User-controlled configuration of the underlying parsers used by GitHub Pages were not sufficiently restricted and made it possible to execute commands on the Gi...
CVE-2021-21353
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-03
Pug is an npm package which is a high-performance template engine. In pug before version 3.0.1, if a remote attacker was able to control the `pretty` option of the pug compiler, e.g. if you spread a user provided object such as the query parameters of a request into the pug template inputs, it was p...