Californian government surrenders to Google and Facebook

The Californian Senate has given up trying to force Google, Facebook and eHarmony to sort out their privacy problems after intense lobbying by the firms.

Democratic Senator Ellen Corbett had penned laws requiring users to set privacy settings while registering for a social network. Her bill would have meant that by default, a person’s name and city of residence would have been the only content shared without permission.

Sites would be fined if they took more than 96 hours to comply with a user’s request to remove personal information.

Corbett said that her laws were smashed by intense lobbying from the tech companies and was voted out by five votes. Apparently it proved impossible to get senators to change their votes or to convince three Democrats who abstained to get on board.

Facebook insists that letting users decide who should see a piece of content at the time that specific item is being shared makes more sense than asking a user to make a long list of choices before they ever use all the features.

Corbett told the Senate that the “social media guys” needed a wake-up call. It looks like if they can stump up enough cash to get politicians half-cut, they can do what they like. Still that is the downside of rejecting the democracy of a constitutional monarchy in favour of an oligarchy of business heads controlling nominally elected politicians.