Saturday, June 25, 2011

Seduced and Used: Social Media Info Feeding Frenzy

We and the Social Media Giants are in this strange love lock: 

we are seduced and used.  We know it, and we like it.  We keep giving away our personal information.

What are the privacy limits of what we give them?  How badly can we be used as the price we pay? 

Not to be arcane, but the answer is found in the First Amendment, and decisions that concern “commercial free speech.”  The U.S. Supreme Court just decided how badly you can be used. 

The legal issue focused on pharmacies that sold personal prescription data to marketing companies for drug manufacturers.  The data was sold for commercial purposes obviously.  That is somewhat important to the analysis.  Free speech rights tend to be more protected for political or socially significant speech. 

Bottom line:  The Supreme Court conservative majority, together with the moderate center Justice Kennedy) held that state data protection measures against the commercial use of personal information is unconstitutional.  True, less restrictive statutes might survive, but that remains to be seen. 

Implications:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and whatever social media giant may yet arise, will continue to feed gluttonously on your personal information, and we will continue to feed them. 

Sorrell v. IMS Health, 10-779 (June, 2011)