The debates regarding privacy on social networks often relate to the amount of control an individual has – or should have – over his/her personal data. This has resulted in many social networks gearing up their privacy settings panes, offering more fine-grained control to their users. Paradoxically, it seems as if these controls do not contribute (a lot) to the protection of individuals’ privacy in practice. Every control in the privacy settings pane has a ‘default,’ a value to which it is set when the user remains inactive. Naturally, most social networks align these default settings to their own business interests which usually do not coincide with their users’ privacy interests. This paper attempts to evaluate the importance of having in place ‘privacy-friendly default settings’ as a way to protect individuals’ privacy and personal data more effectively. After a critical assessment of their benefits and drawbacks, the paper sets forth some concrete guidelines that can be used to establish privacy-friendly (default) settings. Last, but not least, the paper evaluates the potential legal bases of such privacy-friendly default settings.
Full paper on ssrn.com