Facebook back in the doghouse

Canadian privacy commissioner launches second probe

TORONTO -- Canada's privacy czar has put Facebook back in the doghouse.

New public complaints over default settings Facebook recently re-jigged to comply with Canada's privacy laws led Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart on Wednesday (Jan. 27) to launch a second probe into the popular social networking site's treatment of around 12 million Canadian users.

Last October, Facebook revised its Canadian privacy policy with an eye to protecting personal information shared with advertisers.

But Stoddart pointed to a default setting tool introduced by Facebook in mid-December that has allegedly exposed more personal information to advertisers than what slipped through the original privacy gaps.

"The individual's complaint mirrors some of the concerns that our office has heard and expressed to Facebook in recent months," said Elizabeth Denham, Canada's assistant privacy commissioner, who led the original investigation and follow-up with Facebook.

"Some Facebook users are disappointed by certain changes being made to the site -- changes that were supposed to strengthen their privacy and the protection of their personal information," she added.

The original investigation by Stoddart's office pointed to serious concerns about how Facebook shares users' personal information with developers of games, quizzes and other applications.

The wide-ranging investigation also fingered Facebook for how it collected personal information, failed to deactivate or delete accounts of deceased Canadians, and used the information of non-users gleaned from the social networking site.

Canada's privacy czar will now launch a second formal investigation. Facebook last August was given one year to resolve all concerns raised by the first investigation report.

The California-based social networking site meanwhile remains a force in Canadian media. A Facebook viral campaign recently launched to protest the closing of Parliament until March is being credited with a recent slide in poll numbers for the governing Conservative Party.
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