By Jessica Davidson
Oct 3, 2012
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As a marketer, I often get overwhelmed at the sight or sound of legalese. But, working in the online realm, it is imperative to fight through the confusion of technical legal jargon and understand the current and potential legislation that could impact our marketing actions. In this session, David Mink, Jud Soderborg, and Tony Wright offer insight in order to navigate successfully though the potential legislation, like “Do Not Track,” and the legal issues facing social media.
Tony Wright examined the impact that proposed legislation like “Do Not Track” could have on the search engine marketing industry and what needs to happen in order to deter the potential impact. Wright offered some of the worst case scenarios if the legislation is enacted:
With the threat of “Do Not Track” looming, not much appears to be done by search engine marketers who would be directly impacted by the legislation’s enactment. SEMPO and some search engine marketing leaders have taken some initiative to lobby against potential legislation, but for the most part no organized effort has been taken. Why is this the case?
Wright proposes what we as an industry should attempt in order to fight the legislation:
Jud Soderborg offers insight as to what marketers can expect from tracking laws as well as what we should do to navigate through the laws impacting the industry.
Laws involving tracking cookies have not really been established in the United States due to the fact that it is difficult to prosecute violators because those harmed by the tracking cookies must show damages.
Additionally, it is difficult to mandate tracking and cookie laws at the federal and the state level because the internet is global and people from different countries, regions, and states can access websites from others, making it extremely difficult to regulate if legislature differs.
In order to avoid any legal troubles regarding the violation of any future tracking laws, marketers should do the following:
David Mink strayed away from the potential “Do Not Track” legislation and focused his discussion on the legal issues involving social media. He offered a couple of situations, of which the room was split over regarding their legal ramifications, noting the lack of concise knowledge we as marketers have about the legal aspects of the environment we work in.
Mink presented a case in which a sheriff fired a couple of his employees after they liked the page of the opponent who was running against him for sheriff. Although we live in a country that promotes free speech, the courts believed that act of liking something on Facebook is not a substantial statement that warrants constitutional protection.
Only four states (Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, and California) have enacted legislation to prohibit this event from occurring, but many states are beginning to move in this direction.
The main takeaway from David’s presentation is that it is IMPERATIVE for employers to create an internet and social media policy that is clear as to who owns the social media account and outlines the distinctions between personal and professional social media accounts. Also, such a policy needs to be specific to your company and industry due to the various laws and regulations impacting it.