Social networking sites told to warn users of weak privacy controls

STRASBOURG, October 17, 2008 (AFP) – Social networking websites were urged Friday to warn users about the low level of protection given to their profiles at a Council of Europe-organised conference on the issue.

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The European Union Data Protection Authority (Cnil) said websites like Facebook should inform users that their profiles currently receive only “weak” protection.

It added that website users, especially minors, should be told about the risks they face by going online and given clear instructions on how to change their data protection settings.

The request came at the end of a two-day conference in the French city of Strasbourg during which 70 countries also stressed the need for a universal standard on privacy and personal data protection.

“A standard set of international rules is needed because everyone accepts we cannot go on in the same way,” said Alex Turk, president of Cnil.

Organisers are also considering offering financial rewards to countries, institutions and businesses each year that install the best privacy and personal data protection.