Facebook’s Privacy Practices Subject Of New Complaint

    June 2, 2008

Canadian law students are causing trouble for a certain social network.  The University of Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) has filed a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner over Facebook’s practices.

 Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic

The group’s complaint highlights 22 separate issues.  Harley Finkelstein, who is part of CIPPIC, explained in a statement, "Facebook purports to provide users with a high level of control over their data.  But our investigation found that this is not entirely true – for example, even if you select the strongest privacy settings, your information may be shared more widely if your Facebook Friends have lower privacy settings."

Canada’s privacy commissioner can take as much as a year to investigate the complaint.  At that point, the commissioner is only able to make recommendations, and not create laws or collect fines, so the development is hardly of the same importance as, say, Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube.

Facebook’s taking the incident seriously, though.  A representative spoke to the BBC and stated that the Clinic’s complaint suffers from "factual errors," with users willingly sharing almost all of their data.  An old Beacon-related poll seems relevant, too, since few users had even heard of the headline-making program that supposedly violated their privacy.

Ah, well.  As a point of interest, the complaint mentioned that, after the U.S. and the U.K., Facebook finds most of its users in Canada.