Monday, 17 August 2009

Facebook and Canada's Privacy Law

The Ottawa Citizen reports that Facebook must find a way to live up to Canada's privacy law by today (Monday Aug. 17) and respond to Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's privacy commissioner order to close its "serious privacy gaps."If Facebook's final response is unsatisfactory, she has two weeks to take the California-based company to Federal Court in Ottawa to try and get a court order requiring it to change its business practices to comply with Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, the country's private-sector privacy law.
If the dispute goes to court it would be an international first for Facebook, which has grown to more than 200 million users since its launch in 2004. In addition to an "overarching" concern relating to the "confusing" or "incomplete" way in which Facebook provides information to users about its privacy practices, the Privacy Commissioner concluded Facebook's policy to indefinitely keep the personal information of people who have deactivated their accounts is contrary to the Act. But the biggest concern is Facebook's sharing of personal information to companies that operate third-party applications on its site. In order to download popular games and quizzes, Facebook users must consent to share all their personal information, except their contact details. These companies, totalling nearly one million, operate in 180 countries.
Immediately after the privacy commissioner issued her report (pdf, html) last month, Facebook's chief privacy officer said the company looked forward to reaching a resolution, but also said Facebook believed its approach was already in compliance with Canada's law.

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