Kamala Harris: using social media as law enforcement tool

Having a Twitter account is pretty standard these days for politicians who have found it a good way to share their views, build a following and maybe score some points for at least seeming to be tech-savvy.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has found another use for the micro-blogging service, as a somewhat friendlier alternative to filing a lawsuit or sending a formal warning notice to scofflaws.

In a message posted on her Twitter account, @KamalaHarris chided United Airlines on Friday for not displaying a privacy policy on its mobile app.  For good measure, she linked to the text of California’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires commercial website operators to “conspicuously post” a privacy policy if they collect personally identifiable information from California residents.

 

Harris, an ambitious young Democrat, has made privacy issues a high-profile priority since she was elected to the state’s top law enforcement post in 2010.  She’s formed a special unit to focus on high-tech law and earlier this year announced an agreement with major mobile Web companies, aimed at requiring app developers to show their privacy policy to consumers before an app is downloaded.

United, like many other consumer-facing companies these days, has a pretty active social media program of its own. It posts travel tips and responses to customers’ questions or complaints on the @United twitter feed.  I’ve asked United for comment.  But so far today, there’s been no response to the AG’s tweet.

UPDATED AT 3:30 PM PST: A United spokeswoman responded with this statement:

We are committed to protecting our customers’ data and personally identifiable information. United has a customer privacy policy in place that may be viewed on united.com <http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/privacy.aspx> . We will review the app to ensure that our privacy policy is also easily accessible to United app users.

 

 

(Mercury News photo by Maria J. Avila Lopez)

 

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (322 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.