It’s not just Google and Facebook that are under scrutiny from privacy watchdogs.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), a consumer advocacy group based in Ottawa, has asked the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to investigate alleged violations of Canadian privacy law by popular teen social networking site, Nexopia.
PIAC’s complaint identified six Nexopia privacy practices it says violate the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. In particular, PIAC alleges that Nexopia fails to obtain proper consent to release its users’ profiles and personal information to the public via the Internet.
"Social networking is massively popular with children and teens," said John Lawford, counsel for PIAC.
"Kids can use social networking positively to socialize with their friends and express themselves in different ways in different communities. But young users often post personal details about themselves online without realizing that these details are available beyond Nexopia to the public Internet."
Lawford notes that Nexopia also provides an advanced search function to search for members. "Nexopia’s member search engine can be used by everyone with an Internet connection and is a worrisome tool: it permits a very fine-grained search of Nexopia members. This tool does not respect youth privacy."
Nexopia has more than 1.4 million registered users, with more joining every day. Nexopia is being used by approximately 70% of teenagers and young adults in western Canada.
"Nexopia’s default settings are set to share information with the whole world. We believe that many Nexopia users, especially young people, don’t appreciate the extent to which their personal information is being shared beyond their circle of friends," said Janet Lo, co-counsel for PIAC on the complaint.