Facebook faces privacy probe in Canada

May 31st, 2008 - 10:31 am ICT by admin  

Toronto, May 31 IANS) Facebook is under the scanner in Canada following allegations by intern law students at the Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic that the social networking website is violating the nation’s privacy laws. In their complaint to the Canadian privacy commission, the students alleged that the website was passing on users’ personal information to advertisers without their permission.

Listing as many as 21 violations by Facebook under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, they said the website infringed the law by failing to identify the purpose for which it collects users’ personal information and obtain consent to use and disclose their personal information.

It also violated the privacy law by not allowing users to use its service without consenting to give unnecessary personal information.

The students say Facebook is also in violation of the law when it failed to obtain consent to share users’ sensitive information, and allow users who have deactivated their accounts to withdraw consent to share information.

They said the social networking website was not “upfront about its advertisers’ use of personal information and the level of users’ control over their privacy settings.”

Facebook also violated the law when it “didn’t destroy personal information of those who terminate their services and failed to safeguard personal information from unauthorized access,” they said in their complaint.

Further, the students complained that Facebook failed to “explain policies and procedures on the range of personal information that is disclosed to third-party advertisers and application developers.”

The privacy commission may take up to a year to investigate the matter.

Of 69 million Facebook users now, seven million come from Canada, making it the website’s third biggest base after the US and the UK.

In fact, it has a record 700,000 members in Toronto city alone, accounting for 25 percent of the city’s population.

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