Privacy Commissioner Scolds Facebook, Sets Deadline

    July 16, 2009

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada isn’t campaigning against Facebook; representatives have actually said some very nice things about the company and social networks in general.  Just the same, following an investigation, they believe Facebook isn’t meeting certain standards.

Jennifer Stoddart"It’s clear that privacy issues are top of mind for Facebook, and yet we found serious privacy gaps in the way the site operates," Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said in a statement.

One specific problem is the lack of clarity when it comes to deleting an account.  Deactivating one is easy enough, certainly, but the Office of the Privacy Commissioner wants to make sure users can have their data erased.

Another issue relates to third-party applications.  The Office is of the opinion that it’s too easy for developers to access users’ personal info.

Elizabeth DenhamAnyway, Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who also said, "Social networking sites can be a wonderful way to connect," concluded, "We urge Facebook to implement all of our recommendations to further enhance their site, ensure they are in compliance with privacy law, and ultimately show themselves as models of privacy."

Facebook has 30 days to take action (remember that it’s in the middle of rolling out new privacy controls right now), and then the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which can move the matter to Federal Court, will review its progress.