Dumb laws: Senate Bill 242 (Corbett) “Death to Social Networks”

Posted on May 30, 2011


An Op-ed by Michael Paul, the owner of San Leandro based Yen Interactive Media Group and former Judicial Council of California employee

Imagine for a moment that you’re me, a former employee of the Administrative Office of the Courts that owns a company that owns and operates social networks. Imagine that as an AOC whistleblower, you took your whistleblower complaint to Judicial Council member Senator Ellen Corbett and she ignored you. Imagine that you are so angry that you contemplate running for her seat.

Imagine your surprise when your representative appears to lash out at you with a piece of legislation targeting your business. Senate Bill 242 is what I call the “Death to Social Networks” act of 2011. Would you take it personally?

The death to social networks act, Senate Bill 242 died on the Senate floor last week and dead it should stay. Senate Bill 242 places onerous, unrealistic and unachievable privacy restrictions on sites that are identified as social networks. Imagine for a moment that you had some personally identifiable information on a web site. You could have put it there or someone else could have posted it there. Senate Bill 242 allows a social network user to send a message to the site owner informing them of the private information being on their site. Thereafter, the management has 96 hours to find and remove that information or face a civil penalty of up to $10,000.00 per occurence.

Did we mention that the user does not even need to tell the company where that information can be found on a social networking website?

This is why SB242 is opposed by nearly every company doing business on the internet because in some way, nearly every company is engaged in social networking. All it does is invite litigation against one of California’s fastest growing industries, thereby killing an industry in its growth stage.

Yes, Senator Corbett I took it personally. I took no action other than to sit back and watch the impending fireworks and make this one post because sometimes, you can rely on a little help from your friends. Sometimes that help comes from unexpected places.

Unlike my friends, I don’t need to sift through thousands of terabytes of data hundreds of times a day to comply with this flawed legislation. Furthermore, I don’t even collect personally identifiable information and discourage others from posting it. You might have heard of my friends allied against you. Google, Yahoo, Facebook,  Twitter, Skype,  The Internet Alliance, match.com, zynga, eHarmonyall 340 member companies of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and many, many others oppose your stupid legislation.

They’re all almost as mad at you as I am and have hundreds of thousands of employees that you call constituents. I know from personal experience that you don’t listen to your constituents. Just in case you didn’t hear us from the Senate floor last week, we’re prepared to let you hear from us again next week. 

Senator Ellen Corbett shame on you for abusing your leadership position. While it appears that you were targeting legislation directly at my business in retaliation for my vocal criticism of your inaction, the real collateral damage goes out to many of your constituents whose jobs will be lost should this legislation ever see the light of day.

Meanwhile, I’ll just continue to sit back and watch the fireworks.

Produced by Michael Paul for Judicial Council Watcher


Appended by Judicial Council Watcher – in reading, this law is so unconstitutionally vague about what consists of a social network that we could call this bill the anti-judicial council watcher bill. Think about the ways this bill could be utilized to shut down this site because JCW cannot comply with many of the privacy provisions required in this bill.

Maybe Senator Ellen Corbett is upset at being in digital purgatory and this law is her method to get off the wall legally.


San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece.