Volkswagen 'Nazi' Subpoena Points Up Social-Networking Privacy Policies

"We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws," Malorie Lucich, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to Wired News directly quoting language from the site's privacy policy. "We do not reveal information until we have a good-faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards."

Years ago, Yahoo and other companies came under fire for not notifying customers of subpoenas targeting those using the site's message boards. But there are no laws on the books requiring such notice.

California lawmakers defeated a proposal toward that goal in 2004, following intense lobbying from the entertainment industry. The law would have required notice of subpoenas related to defamation, privacy, trade secrets and other statutes enforced by California, which is home to many of the nation's most popular sites, including Yahoo, YouTube and Facebook.

Copyright subpoenas, which fall under federal law, could not be covered under the California proposal. Virginia, home to AOL, is the only state having a notification law, said Deirdre Mulligan, director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the UC Berkeley School of Law. "It's an industry best practice to try to give notice, even though there's no legal requirement to do so."

In short, we should apparently trust the sites to protect the privacy of users over the interests of copyright holders, which often are major advertisers.

Americans watched more than 9 billion videos online in July, up about 8 percent from the month earlier, according to comScore Media Metrix. The bulk of the videos were viewed on social networking sites. Google's YouTube ranked at the top with about 2.4 billion videos views. Yahoo, in second, had 390 million videos viewed and Fox Interactive Media, which owns MySpace, came in third, with 298 million views for July.

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