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Data protection issues pertaining to social networking under EU law

Eleni Kosta (Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT (ICRI) – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Christos Kalloniatis (Cultural Informatics Laboratory, Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece)
,
Lilian Mitrou (Information and Communication Systems Security Laboratory, Department of Information and Communications Systems Engineering, University of the Aegean, Samos, Greece)
Stefanos Gritzalis (Information and Communication Systems Security Laboratory, Department of Information and Communications Systems Engineering, University of the Aegean, Samos, Greece)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 1 June 2010

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the introduction of new communication channels facilitates interactive information sharing and collaboration between various actors over social networking services and how social networking fits in the existing European legal framework on data protection. The paper also aims to discuss some specific data protection issues, focusing on the role of the relevant actors, using the example of photo tagging.

Design/methodology/approach

Privacy in social networks is one of the main concerns for providers and users. This paper examines the role of the main actors in social networking, i.e. the providers and the users, scrutinised under the light of the European data protection legislation. Specifically, how social networking service providers deal with users' privacy and how users handle their personal information, if this manipulation is complied with the respective legislation and how “tagging”, one of the most familiar services provided by the social networking providers, may cause privacy risks.

Findings

Social networking is one of the most remarkable cultural phenomena that has blossomed in the Web 2.0 era. They enable the connection of users and they facilitate the exchange of information among them. However, the users reveal vast amounts of personal information over social networking services, without realising the privacy and security risks arising from their actions. The European data protection legislation could be used as a means for protecting the users against the unlawful processing of their personal information, although a number of problems arise regarding its applicability.

Originality/value

The paper discusses some privacy concerns involved in social networks and examines how social networking service providers and users deal with personal information with regard to the European data protection legislation.

Keywords

Citation

Kosta, E., Kalloniatis, C., Mitrou, L. and Gritzalis, S. (2010), "Data protection issues pertaining to social networking under EU law", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 193-201. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506161011047406

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited