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In this essay I am going to discuss and critically analyse whether or not existing data protection laws protect the privacy of individuals whose personal information has been disclosed on social networking sites.

Over the period of time social networking sites (SNS) have increased their popularity among people. There are various reasons of people using these sites. However, majority of SNS users are those people who use these sites for social networking e.g. chatting with friends, sharing their interests etc. These SNS users do not only have data relating to them but also the data of third parties. Many of these users do not take care of other people’s personal information, for example, they share their family and friends information with other strange people. It is not that only SNS users do not take essential care of others personal information, SNS themselves seems uninterested to protect personal information of its users.

What is personal information? According to (article 2 (a)) of the data protection Directive, the information that qualifies as personal information is “Information only qualifies as personal data if it directly or indirectly relates to an identified or identifiable natural person. In order to determine whether a person is identifiable, account should be taken of all the means likely to be reasonably used either by the controller or by any other person to identify the said person (recital 26). As a result, most information that is made available on a social network (messages, photos, personal preferences, lists of friends) qualifies as personal data”. (Eecke, P V., and Truyens, M, 2010)

Relation between the data protection Directive 95/46/EC and social networking sites is complex. Data protection di...

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...nds and family’s information for personal and household purposes but, indirectly, process this information to allow third parties (SNS and application providers) to process this information for commercial purposes. When a user uses an application, application providers takes their consent to access their and their friends’ detail. Users of SNS are with wider communities from all over the world. One might be in United States (US) but have friends and family in United Kingdom (UK) whom information he/she is sharing, that person will also be exempted from data protection directive. In all these case Data protection laws do not adequately protects the privacy of individuals whose personal information is disclosed on social networking sites. A wider view is needed to protect the privacy of individuals. This should include global regularity for privacy protection.
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