What Entrepreneurs Need to Know about User Data and Privacy

What Entrepreneurs Need to Know about User Data and Privacy

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and member of the press gathered on Thursday, March 14th to discuss online personal information sharing and privacy issues. They made it clear that new methods are needed to avoid oversharing of users’ private data.

Tech journalist Rafe Needleman, currently a platform advocate for Evernote, lead the discussion and asked questions regarding social media profiles for children and personal data ownership rights. It was mentioned that it is impossible to know people’s real age when they create social media profiles and the question was how to prevent children under 14 years of age of creating one. As the Federal Trade Commision revealed its plan to toughen the Children’s Online Privacy Act starting July 1st of this year, the participants, including Ted Hollifield from Alston & Bird, pointed out that it is hard to track who actually creates the profile. Hollifer along with audience members argued that it is acceptable for youngsters to have Facebook profiles with the consent of their parents. It is impossible, however, to know if the claiming “parent” is the actual mother or father.

Another big topic was the issue of rights ownership when it comes to Internet users’ private data. Mary Hodder, co-founder of Customer Commons, argued that users who shop online and share their information with the site they are using should split the rights to their data with the site in question. Hodder compared data ownership with owning the rights of a song created by two people. She pointed out that in such case, both owners have the right to use their song however they wish without asking each other for permission. According to her, the same should be the case with sites handling user data since there are two owners here as well - the user and the site that this user shares his or her personal information.

There is a growing concern among users about how much they have to share. Hodder discussed survey conducted with people from different parts of the country. Participants were asked if they have ever given a false information when asked to register to a site. She was shocked to find out that about 70% answered positively. The conclusion is that people care about their privacy and how their personal information is used.


March 26th, 2013


  • privacy
  • online
  • facebook+twitter
  • social+media
  • children