Jan. 26 — Legislation (H.B. 5779) before the Connecticut General Assembly would place limits on how often social media websites could request that consumers provide access to their contact list for purposes of generating unsolicited marketing to those contacts.
If adopted, the Connecticut measure would be the first state statute to restrict such requests, Rep. Mitch Bolinsky (R), the bill's sponsor, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 23.
Bolinsky said the intent of the bill is to protect consumers from efforts by social media businesses, such as LinkedIn, to use “deceptive and aggressive practices” to mine visitors' contacts for reasons of unsolicited electronic marketing to those third-party contacts.
He said his interest in the matter was generated by concerns expressed by constituents, as well as his own experience on social media sites where he is continually required to click on the no button in response to requests for access to his contact lists.
“If you are in a hurry, or you click on the wrong button, you are basically giving them authority to raid your e-mail list and contact all your contacts under your name,” Bolinsky said. What really offended him, he said, is that the company was marketing to his contacts under his name without his express permission to represent him.
Bolinsky said the idea behind the statute is tantamount to the right to be on a do-not-call list where consumers can opt-out. For example, he said, consumers are usually prompted or required to update their privacy practices once a year. At that time, a user should be able to opt-in or opt-out of such requests to access their contact list for marketing purposes.
He defined aggressive as being repeated requests, sometimes as many as 30 per visit, to access contact lists.
He said the language of the proposed measure is fairly simple at this time, but will be revised as the issue is discussed by lawmakers. The bill is currently before the General Laws committee, which has not yet scheduled a public hearing on the matter.
Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 26 that “the goal of the bill is understandable—consumers' contact lists shouldn't necessarily be used for aggressive marketing purposes without proper notice and opting in—but the language will have to be fleshed out some more to survive the First Amendment.”
Kamdar said the issue was “who's to say what is ‘aggressive’ and what isn't?” He added that the bill could benefit “from spelling out such a metric, perhaps by highlighting the actions of a specific offender.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Martha Kessler in Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael O. Loatman at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)