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Monday, May 19, 2008

Social Networking Sites

A recent article in the Washington Post Business Section revealed that Google has recently announced a new, free service that will allow any website to become a social networking site. As large social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook have grown in size and are widely reputed to be worth billions of dollars, many smaller websites have taken the plunge into social networking or Web 2.0 technologies that utilize user-generated content. This trend represents an entrepreneurial opportunity for the intrepid web developer. However, one should be aware of the legal implications before launching a new social networking site. There are federal and state laws regulating certain aspects of Web 2.0 that can be ambiguous and perhaps contradictory. For example, there are regulations dealing with retention and use of personal information collected by social networking websites. A new Web 2.0 site should implement and follow a privacy policy to ensure compliance with these regulations. There are regulations regarding the privacy of children. The FTC regulates certain marketing practices. In short, there are a plethora of laws, including copyright, constitutional and sometimes criminal, of which the new Web 2.0 developer must be aware in order to avoid legal problems.

The attorneys at the law firm of Gross & Romanick are licensed in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia and regularly practice in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington Counties as well as the City of Alexandria and the Eastern District of Virginia. We are well-versed in the intricacies of law and regulation that govern the rapidly developing technologies of Web 2.0. Our attorneys have participated in seminars expressly tailored to the unique situations created by user-generated content, social networking and Web 2.0. Whether you or your business are attempting to develop the newest version of Facebook and need a lawyer to assist in drafting a privacy policy; or you have been criminally charged with a violation of various federal and state anti-spam laws because of an unintentional mass emailing to subscribers; or just need legal representation, our attorneys can help.