Facebook, Skype and Google are among the companies who have come out against a California privacy bill. (Jin Lee/BLOOMBERG)

The bill, The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang reported, started as a children’s privacy measure and would let users set their privacy controls before they register for any online site.

The tech companies argue that the current system — where users input information and then decide how to share it — is far better at protecting privacy because it lets people see parts of the privacy policy in the context of their information.

On one hand, it’s great to give the user the power to set the privacy rules up front. You would get to choose what you share before setting up a profile, leading to fewer surprises down the line.

But that’s in an ideal world. How many of us already hit that “I Accept” button that comes up without reading a thing? Clicking through every privacy setting for a site up front, particularly one with multimedia, could be too much for many users.

A more palatable idea for privacy settings comes in another part of the bill — social networks should make all entered information private by default. That idea’s easier to swallow for the average user and cuts down the likelihood that a user will be so overwhelmed with policies that they just don’t register for the site.

Privacy settings can be difficult to navigate, and many would probably breathe easier knowing that they have a smaller chance of oversharing.

Some have raised questions about the legality of this bill, both because it has implications far beyond the state boundaries of California and because it could violate the First Amendment by suppressing public data.

Those questions aside, the bill does introduce some interesting questions about the best way to give consumers the right to hide — or share — just as much as they want.

What do you think is the best model? Should information on the Web be private by default?

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