An independent advisory group to the European Commission has argued that social networks and their users need more regulation to ensure that personal data is not put at risk.
The Article 29 Working Group, which has representatives from all European Union member states, has put together a report outlining its proposals that will be published shortly, according to a European Commission spokesman.
The report, which has been seen by The Financial Times, says that sites that allow third-party developers to access user data, such as Facebook and Twitter, should be more tightly controlled.
Even though the sites are based in the US, their large presence in Europe means that they should be subject to European Union privacy and data protection legislation, according to the Article 29 Working Group.
The group successfully argued in 2007 for Google to anonymise server logs older than 24 months for European users.
Other proposals in the report include greater regulation to be applied to companies that use social networking sites for marketing purposes.
It is currently unclear whether the group is proposing external government regulation, or internal regulation that would be left to the sites themselves to enforce.
A spokeswoman for Facebook accepted the need for a regulatory framework because of the fast evolution of the web industry.
"The opinion issued by the Article 29 Working Group on social networking services is an important step in providing the industry with practical guidance for their operations in the European Union," she said. "It will now need to be assessed in detail by all companies with services in this area."
However, Rob Marcus, director of social networking moderation company Chat Moderators, said that, while he is pleased that the EU is taking action in this area, he does not believe that legislation is the way forward.
"I believe it is up to every user-generated content site to act responsibly, and that self regulation is the way forward," he said. "Internet applications tend to be fast moving in terms of technological advancement, so maintaining any standards may become difficult."
The UK representative for the Article 29 Working Group is Richard Thomas, the outgoing UK Information Commissioner, who could not be reached for more details.
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