Canadian Privacy Commissioner warns of Facebook privacy gaps

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has concluded (see the complete findings report) they’ve found significant privacy “gaps” on what is now the largest online social network in the world, Facebook.

The report finds significant privacy issues on Facebook relating to: terminating existing accounts, management of accounts of deceased users, disclosing information to third-party developers, and collecting personal information on the site of people who are non-users.

The government will continue to work with Facebook on addressing the issues.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada today warned, “Facebook must take greater responsibility for the personal information in its care” in order to comply with Canadian law.

The commissioner will give Facebook 30 days pending another review.

Changes could be enforced on Facebook through the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act by the Federal Court of Canada if insufficient changes are made to the existing practices and privacy agreements.

Commissioner’s Facebook Recommendations (source)

1. revise the pop-up phrase “a means of preserving the integrity of the site” so as to more clearly capture the true purpose intended and make it more understandable to users;

2. amend its Privacy Policy so as to explain the purposes for which DOB specifically is collected and used;

3. revise its site literature wherever appropriate, including pop-ups on the registration page, so as to clearly define what it means by profile information and to clearly dispel the notion that hiding DOBs from a profile means exempting them from use in targeted advertising; and

4. indicate, in the pop-up in which it specifies the purposes for collection of DOBs, that DOBS are collected also for the purpose of targeted advertising. Facebook should likewise specify any other purposes for which it intends to use or disclose users’ DOBs.

About 12 million Canadians currently use Facebook.


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Hercules holds a B.Comm Finance from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level 3 candidate. He was previously a contributor at FiLife, a finance website owned by Dow Jones and IAC. Write to hercules@business2press.com
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