Facebook Privacy Flaws Dangerous, Says Report

Dennis Faas's picture

After a thirteen month investigation, Canada's Privacy Commissioner has announced its finding that Facebook's policies and practices violate Canadian privacy laws. According to Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, there are "serious privacy gaps" in Facebook's operations.

A complaint from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, or CIPPIC, instigated the investigation, which started in May of last year.

The initial complaint was comprised of 24 allegations pertaining to 12 different subjects, including Facebook's default privacy settings, what the site does with member personal data, and the passing of this information onto third parties for advertising purposes. The latter issue was at the heart of the heated Facebook terms of service debate back in March of this year.

Canadians Demand Better Protection of User Data

The investigation, which included several waves of interviews with Facebook executives, has made a few recommendations for the site. For one, it asks that Facebook developers only access the user information they need most in order to run a specific application.

Second, it requests that Facebook no longer allow developers to collect information from a user's "friends" when the user signs up for an application. (Source: azcentral.com)

Overall, the report has demanded that Facebook revise its vital policies and practices so that the user has ultimate control over the personal data being employed by the site or third parties. Up until now, Stoddart doesn't believe the site has done the best job in protecting the rights of its members.

Problems with "knowledge and consent" Fuel Investigation

"The central issue in CIPPIC's allegations was knowledge and consent," said Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. (Source: technewsworld.com)

Those responsible for the report have given Facebook 30 days to adjust its policies. It's unclear exactly what might happen if Facebook fails to make the changes, but it could lead to a lot of bad publicity both north and south of the 49th parallel.

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