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Facebook Violates Canadian Privacy Law 179

Posted by kdawson
from the over-sharing dept.
Myriad and a number of other readers passed along the news that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner has made a determination that Facebook violates Canadian privacy law in four different respects. Canada has the highest per-capita facebook participation in the world — about a third of the population — according to coverage in The Star. The EU is also expressing similar privacy concerns, though Canada's action "represents the most exhaustive official investigation of Facebook privacy practices anywhere in the world," says Michael Geist. The CBC's coverage spells out the areas of privacy concern, in particular that nearly a million developers of Facebook apps in 180 countries have full access to the entirety of users' private data. Also of concern: Facebook holds on to your data indefinitely after you quit the site. The BBC notes that Facebook is working with the privacy commission to resolve the issues, and quotes a Facebook spokesman thus: "Overall, we are looking for practical solutions that operate at scale and respect the fact that people come to share and not to hide." (Schneier recently blogged about research on "privacy salience," and cited Facebook's practices among others' as practical examples of how social networking sites have learned not to push the privacy issue in users' faces.)
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Facebook Violates Canadian Privacy Law

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  • by Minion of Eris (1574569) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:09AM (#28731053)
    DO NOT RUN ANY APPS!!! Sorry for shouting, but I have been saying this to people for years now (since the first time i read the terms for FaceBook apps). I am not knocking FB as a tool in and of itself, in fact I am very grateful to them for letting my daughter find me after 16 years of seperation (true story - she searched my name and sent me a message) but come on, they state clearly that if you want to plant a garden (or whatever) the developer gets to see all of your info. just Don't Do It. thanks for the rant-space.
  • Re:Priorities (Score:3, Informative)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:33AM (#28731363)

    How robust is Canada's analog to the 4th amendment? Does it even have one?..

    Part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms [wikipedia.org] which is as robust as it gets in Canadian constitutional law.

    8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

  • Re:Simple solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by WebCowboy (196209) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:37AM (#28731413)

    It's not like they're going to send Mounties to the U.S. or require ISPs to block Facebook.

    YES facebook IS VERY MUCH bound by Canadian law and it IS enforceable to a large degree. And yes, Facebook CAN be taken to court if they do not make efforts to meet the commissioner's recommendations.

    If Pandora can be ordered to refuse entry to non Americans via geolocation, etc. to adhere to DMCA and license agreements in the US, you can ABSOLUTELY expect that Facebook can be ordered to shut off access in Canada (note that this does NOT involve ISPs--it is a function of the web site itself). Proxies, etc. make enforcement imperfect, but by law in both cases the website MUST take "reasonable efforts" to abide by local laws.

    Only if websites refuse to cooperate would the issue be escalated to more draconian means (the Canadian gov't CAN file lawsuits in an American juristiction or an international venue you know--and CRTC can mandate ISPs follow certain rules too)

    whether this is a problem or such action is right or wrong, it CAN be done.

  • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Informative)

    by abigor (540274) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:41AM (#28731471)

    As another poster mentioned, the Canadian equivalent of the 4th Amendment is Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    More to the point, Canada has a very powerful Privacy Act ("An Act to extend the present laws of Canada that protect the privacy of individuals and that provide individuals with a right of access to personal information about themselves") that limits the government's ability to collect and retain private information, and a Privacy Commissioner to enforce it. I don't think there's anything comparable in the US, as Canada's privacy laws are probably the toughest in the western world.

  • Re:Draconian Laws (Score:3, Informative)

    by Roman Coder (413112) on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:42PM (#28732355)

    Yesterday I saw an IQ Test" app and thought "Why not?", so I took the test (one could argue I failed it by just using Facebook to test my IQ, but I'll leave that for another discussion).

    When I was done, the app wouldn't give me my results until I gave it my cell phone number, so it could send me the results of my test to my cell phone. Not like I could read it off of the web browser, right?

    Pissed me off to no end that the app would so underhandedly try to farm my cell number this way, so I just backed out of the test and swore to never try another Facebook app after that.

    So I agree, there's no reason why these apps needs ALL of my personal information to do their thing. Its just marketing companies running amok IMHO.

  • Re:Simple solution (Score:2, Informative)

    by Magic5Ball (188725) on Friday July 17, 2009 @02:24PM (#28733671)

    I agree, per the Yahoo! and Belgium issue. But:

    http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/cgi-bin/sc_mrksv/corpdir/dataOnline/corpns_re?company_select=4496906 [ic.gc.ca]

    Corporation #4496906 BN #834768624RC0001
    Corporation Name(s): FACEBOOK CANADA LTD.

    Old Name(s) and Change Date(s)

    Registered Office Address: [Latest address on file]
    Care of:
    Street: 3700 400-3RD AVE. SW
    City: CALGARY
    Province: Alberta
    Postal Code: T2P4H2
    Country: Canada

    Country: Canada
    Reg. Off. Eff: 2008/10/21

    Status Date
    Active 2008/10/21

    ACT Name: Canada Business Corporations Act Proxy:
    Incorporation:2008/10/21 Prospectus:
    Amalgamation: Take Over:
    Continuance: Revival:
    Anniversary:2008/10/21 Intent to Dissolve:
    Import: - Revocation of Intent:
    Export: - Update:2008/10/27

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