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Internet Governance 18 November 2009

Social Media and internet governance – legal issues and challenges

Today the Internet has seen a radical dramatic shift. In many senses, this dramatic shift is symbolized by the emergent new social media revolution. Social networking websites have taken the imagination of the netizens by storm. Constantly, more and more numbers are thronging on to various established and new social networking sites not only to give vent to their own thought process, ideas, viwe points and perspectives but also to interact with other friends, acquaintances, business partners and similar minded persons. The emergence Internet after the advent of the World Wide Web and te email.

However the emergence of social media networks have demonstrated that there are a lot of complicated legal issues pertaining to the said social networking platforms. These legal issues pertain to a variety of distinct yet diverse subjects.

  • There are complicated and technical legal issues not only relating to user generated content or third-party data that is generated by subscribers on the social networking sites but also with other related apsects.
  • Issues pertaining to the ownership of the said  data is still not clear.
  • There are issues pertaining to data protection as also violation of privacy.
  • Further, social networking sites are today increasingly being thronged by cyber criminals and cyber terrorists not only to help facilitate and execute their criminal intentions but also to intermingle with the masses and the huge internet traffic existing on the websites to identify more about the psyche and thinking of the netizen community.

As time passes by, the legal issues surrounding social media shall be of tremendous significance. These legal issues are currently beginning to emerge but are likely to consume sufficient attention and time of the relevant stakeholders over  a period of time. At the IGF 4 meeting in Egypt, it has been discussed and decided to set up a ‘Dynamic Coalition on Social Media and Legal Issues’, in a bid to generate discussions, debates, analysis and awareness about the various legal issues surrounding the use of social media, social networking websites and social media plarforms as also data and information residing therein. The Coalition’s objectives are;

  1. To help identify existing legal challenges and issues pertaining to social media.
  2. To identify existing and potential legal responses to complicated legalities of social media.  
  3. To help provide a global platform for discussion and debate on the nuances and technicalities of legalities surrounding social media.
  4. To provide a fertile ground for providing debate discussion and analysis of legalities surrounding social media for the relevant stakeholders of social media.
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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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