Canadian Privacy Commissioner Calls for Stricter Privacy Practices from Facebook

By Matt Holliday Comment

jennifer-stoddartThe Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, has voiced concerns over Facebook’s compliance with Canadian privacy laws after a recent investigation by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, noting several areas that need to be addressed to ensure users’ information is safe. Facebook says several of the issues have already been resolved, and additional updates coming soon will “address any remaining concerns.”

Many of Stoddart’s issues are centered around the complexity of Facebook’s privacy settings, which Facebook recently announced would be updated soon. The Canadian government is also asking for more transparency in Facebook’s privacy policies, so that users have a better idea in what’s involved in sharing information.

Canada sees the biggest privacy issues around how Facebook handles deleted accounts. When users deactivate accounts, their information is still saved on the site’s servers. The government would like Facebook to better instruct users on how to completely delete their accounts, and then purge all account information after a predetermined time period.

Application security was also a concern. The Canadian government noted that Facebook doesn’t really know exactly how much profile information developers are using when users sign up for their apps, and there are questions over exactly how those developers are using that information and where it ultimately ends up.

The privacy of non-users was also addressed, with the Commissioner saying better protection is needed for photos and people invited to join the site. Regarding deceased users, Stoddart asked for a way for people to consent to having their pages memorialized so that friends and family can leave messages after their passing.

Clarity seems to be the main focal point to the government’s concerns. Ultimately, Facebook has shown that it is very responsive to public privacy concerns, but the issues raised by Stoddart’s statement today are not simply cut and dry. We’ll of course keep you updated as Facebook makes any updates to its privacy policies and plans.