Canada privacy watchdog taking Facebook to court

If the court application is successful, it could lead to modest fines and an order for Facebook to revamp its privacy

Canada’s privacy czar said Thursday that he is taking Facebook to court after finding that lax practices at the social media giant allowed personal information to be used for political purposes.

A joint report from privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien and his British Columbia counterpart said major shortcomings were uncovered in Facebook’s procedures. It called for stronger laws to protect Canadians.

READ MORE: Canadian privacy watchdogs find major shortcomings in Facebook probe

The commissioners expressed dismay that Facebook had rebuffed their findings and recommendations.

Facebook insisted it took the investigation seriously. The company said it offered to enter into a compliance agreement.

The Canadian report comes as Ireland’s privacy regulator is investigating Facebook over the company’s recent revelation that it had left hundreds of millions of user passwords exposed.

The Canadian probe followed reports that Facebook let an outside organization use an app to access users’ personal information and that some of the data was then passed to others. Recipients of the information included the firm Cambridge Analytica.

The app, at one point known as “This is Your Digital Life,” encouraged users to complete a personality quiz but collected much more information about those who installed the app as well as data about their Facebook friends, the commissioners said.

About 300,000 Facebook users worldwide added the app, leading to the potential disclosure of the personal information of approximately 87 million others, including more than 600,000 Canadians, the report said.

VIDEO: Are you concerned about Facebook leaking personal information?

The commissioners concluded that Facebook broke Canada’s privacy law governing companies by failing to obtain valid and meaningful consent of installing users and their friends and that it had “inadequate safeguards” to protect user information.

Despite its public acknowledgment of a “major breach of trust” in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook disputes the report’s findings and refuses to implement recommendations, the commissioners said.

“Facebook’s refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive information people have entrusted to this company,” Therrien said. “The company’s privacy framework was empty.”

Therrien reiterated his longstanding call for the Canadian government to give him authority to issue binding orders to companies and levy fines for non-compliance with the law. In addition, he wants powers to inspect the practices of organizations.

The office of Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, the Cabinet member responsible for Canada’s private-sector privacy law, said the government would take concrete actions on privacy in coming weeks.

Facebook Canada spokeswoman Erin Taylor said the company was disappointed that Therrien considers the issues unresolved.

“There’s no evidence that Canadians’ data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, and we’ve made dramatic improvements to our platform to protect people’s personal information,” Taylor said.

“We understand our responsibility to protect people’s personal information, which is why we’ve proactively taken important steps toward tackling a number of issues raised in the report.”

If the application to Federal Court is successful, it could lead to modest fines and an order for Facebook to revamp its privacy practices, Therrien said.

Also on Thursday, the New York State Attorney General’s Office announced that it is investigating the company’s unauthorized collection of the email contacts of 1.5 million users. Facebook has previously acknowledged that it unintentionally uploaded the contacts.

The Menlo Park, California, said it is “in touch with the New York State attorney general’s office and (is) responding to their questions on this matter.”

READ MORE: RCMP arrest B.C. man following threatening Vaisakhi Facebook post

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tofino athletes Devries, Olin selected for Surf Canada Olympic pathway team

“We’ve got a lot of work to do before any of us qualify for the Olympics.”

Port Alberni’s RE/MAX Ride the Rim cyclists pedal into Ucluelet

“I did it for the children and for the love of the sport.”

Surfrider cheers ocean friendly businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet

Surfrider Pacific Rim is pushing for an ocean friendly, plastic-free, peninsula.

Ucluelet First Nation elects new Legislature

“We have to reevaluate where we’re going.”

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read