Outline the Current and Proposed Uk Legal Framework Under Which Social Networking Sites Operate. in Your Opinion, Is the Protection Offered to Innocent Users of These Sites Sufficient? If so, What Makes It Sufficient?

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Over recent years, social networking websites have become increasingly popular. According to (media.of.com, 2012) 50% of adult internet users in the UK alone have a social networking profile. These sites allow people to create their own profiles where they can display personal information, photos and even their current location. Contacts are often referred to as friends or followers. In the past users have been the targets of Identity theft, Sexual predators, Stalking, Unintentional fame and Employment Issues. This has triggered an obvious increase in the concern for the privacy and protection of user’s information. The sudden rise in popularity of these sites has come long after laws and legal framework such as the Data Protection Act was written and therefore includes no special clauses for such sites. In this report we will look at the current and proposed UK legal framework to see if there is enough in place to keep innocent users safe on Social Networking Sites.

The current UK legal framework which social networking sites must work under, are: Data Protection Act 1998
This is the main law that governs the protection of personal data in the United Kingdom. It provides individuals with a way to have control over the information about them. Anyone holding personal data for any purpose is legally obliged to abide with this law. The act outlines eight data protection principles. (ICO GOV, 2012)

In America there is a different data protection act. They and Europe have merged laws which allow US companies to transfer information to their servers. Both US and Europe came together to merge rules to form a “European Union Safe Harbour Framework” which includes the data protection act and the federal data protection act, which is used by twitter.

Computer Misuse Act 1990
This law was designed to frame legislations and controls over computer crime and fraud. It was created to: ➢Criminalise unauthorised access to computer systems
Deter serious criminals from using a computer to assist a criminal offence

Intellectual Property Law
The intellectual property act briefly states “Intellectual Property (IP) results from the expression of an idea. Intellectual Property might be a brand, an invention, a design, a song or another intellectual creation”. This states that any user which posts their own creation to the site will be protected by the IP act.

Copy Right
Under the laws of most countries copyright is the legal right that protects original works of authorship such as books, music, film and art.

The Defamation Act
Defamation happens when information that is not true or information about someone that is damaging is published to a third party. This law was created to protect individuals or organisations from slander and libel. (LawTeacher, 2012)

Communications Act 2003:
This law outlines Act introduced new offences for ‘Improper use of public electronic communications network’

Malicious Communications Act 1998/Telecommunications Act 1984: This law criminalizes those who send offensive and/or threatening messages via electronic communication to another person.

Enough Protection is offered to Users
Under relatively new law (Jan 2012) all personal data, including photos, can be deleted from a social media site you belong to, at request. This law was put forward by the EU and approved to replace the “outdated” 1995 Data Protection Directive, which was made well before social media and media sharing sites became popular. Although this law was passed to protect individuals’ privacy, companies can still hold and process personal data if they prove that they have a legitimate reason to do so. The BBC (www.bbc.co.uk, 2012) quotes “…people will be able to ask for data about them to be deleted and firms will have to comply unless there are “legitimate” grounds to retain it” An example of when this law might help a person is when looking for a job. It has become increasingly common that...
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