Reposted from DLA Piper’s Media & Sport Group Bulletin

Editorial Team: Nick FitzpatrickDuncan Calow and Patrick Mitchell

Following a report focussed on the implementation of the “Safer Social Networking Principles of the EU” the European Commission has found that social networking sites are not doing enough to protect minors’ privacy.

The Report, published on 30 September 2011, was commissioned to determine whether nine social networking sites are taking the necessary action to support the “Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU”, a self-regulatory agreement brokered by the Commission to keep children safe online as part of the objective set by the Digital Agenda for Europe to enhance trust in the Internet. Twenty-one companies have signed these Principles to date including Facebook, Yahoo! and Google and this is the latest report (the other fourteen sites were tested in the first report published in June 2011) complementing a review of implementation of the Principles.

The Commission found that whilst the majority of sites tested give youngsters age-appropriate safety information and guidance, whilst also responding to any requests for help, only two of the nine have default settings which protect the privacy of minors’ personal profiles. Habbo Hotel and Xbox Live have default provisions in place to ensure that minors’ profiles are accessible only to their approved list of contacts, however six of the nine sites allow minors’ profiles to be accessed by “friends of friends” and all of the sites allow minors to receive friend requests from anyone.  The report did find, on a positive note, that all sites tested provide a shorter and more child-friendly version of their Terms of Use or Service.

The results of the two reports on the implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles by social networking sites will be taken into consideration by the Commission in introducing, as stated by Neelie Kroes Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, “a comprehensive strategy making the internet a safer place for children” due to be published later this year.