Privacy in the Social Networked World
Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan
Hosted by the Centre for Business Information Ethics
Sponsored by Privacy Laws & Business
Professor Graham Greenleaf, Asia-Pacific Editor, Privacy Laws & Business International Report, is on the organising committee.
Social Networking from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter to Skype has radically changed the landscape of the processing of personal information. No longer is it just Acxiom and its ilk gleaning nuggets of data from individuals' shopping habits, hotel stays etc. Instead, users are providing information about themselves and their interactions: who they are, where they go, what age they are (down to their precise birth date), who their friends are (and aren't), what their romantic relationship status is (including their sexual orientation). Employers increasingly look at such sites when considering job applications and some have even gone so far as to demand access to candidates' accounts during interview (in the US, at least). How voluntary users' provision of this information actually is remains to be tested with issues such as network effects and lack of information pressuring users to provide access.
Still struggling to cope with the growth of corporate personal information processing and worldwide trading enabled by the Internet and growing computing power, both laws and social norms are lagging behind the capabilities of the systems and the future of privacy is being pushed by a small number of technology companies primarily for their own benefit.
While the home-grown and mostly pseudonymous Mixi used to hold sway in Japan, Facebook has been gaining both total users and greater activity and in 2012 it appears to have drawn level with or even surpassed Mixi as the dominant social network in Japan. Twitter, meanwhile, is even more popular (possibly because it's possible to say far more in 140 Japanese kanji characters that in 140 English letters, even with txtspk).
In China, meanwhile, local equivalent Sina Weibo has gained both prominence and controversy. Twitter is banned (as are Facebook and LinkedIn) in China and inaccessible through the Great Firewall of China. Sina Weibo is filtered and somewhat monitored (though the monitoring is automatic and relatively easily evadable) with occasional purges of users ordered by the government.
In Korea, the law states that all Internet access must be logged to a national ID number the RRN (though how realistic and enforced this is remains a question) and there are opposing proposals being discussed around either requiring SNS sites to display real names of commenters or banning them from even asking for the RRN, much less being required to use it for registration and identification.
Although Malaysia intermittently and without notice blocks some systems such as LiveJournal, despite a heavy censorship of traditional media access to social media sites is relatively free.
LiveJournal has seen regular outages due to DDoS attacks over recent years in a move thought to be orchestrated by supporters of the current administration, due to LiveJournal's position as the most common political blogging tool in Russia.
In the US there are ongoing court cases regarding whether or not police need a warrant to access the date on mobile phones (and probably other mobile devices) of a person whom they interview or arrest.
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