Canadian Government Pushes for Facebook Privacy Changes

By: Absolute Team | 8/11/2009

Last month, Canada's Privacy Commissioner released a statement about Facebook and its compliance with Canadian privacy laws. The statement is the result of a study into allegations by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic that Facebook was not complying with 24 aspects of Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. These aspects included default privacy settings, collection and use of personal information, and disclosure of personal information to third parties. Some of the findings concluded that the allegations were not well-founded, while others were supported.

As a result of the report, Canada has released its Report of Findings and its request that Facebook strengthen its privacy protections. The press briefing included some praise for Facebook's current privacy measures, though many areas were identified for improvement.

Areas of requested improvement include:

  • Improving information about privacy practices (example: information on deactivating vs deleting an account)
  • Improving safeguards that restrict outside developers from accessing unnecessary profile information
  • Deleting personal information after it is no longer necessary to meet appropriate needs (to comply with Canadian law)

Facebook made some improvements to their privacy measures when provided with an interim report; they now have 30 days (from July 16) to respond to the full report.

Facebook has agreed to adopt many of the recommendations stemming from the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation or, in some cases, has proposed reasonable alternatives to the measures recommended. However, there remain a number of recommendations that Facebook has not yet agreed to implement.

The Privacy Commissioner is empowered to go to Federal Court to seek that the recommendations be enforced. So, it may be that Canada's report helps to strengthen Facebook privacy standards for all Facebook users!

Via internet evolution

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