Facebook complies with Canada privacy laws

Limits amount of information it gives to software developers

MONTREAL -- Facebook has agreed to make key changes to comply with Canada's privacy laws. Federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said Thursday that Facebook agreed, among other new measures, to limit the amount of personal information it will feed to software developers to produce games and other ancillary products.

"This is an extremely important change," Stoddart said at a news conference after months of negotiations between the social media site and the Canadian government.

Stoddart and her department earlier fingered Facebook for breaching federal rules with lax protections for the private information of 12 million Canadian users. Facebook agreed to introduce features to clear up confusing or incomplete privacy settings, including information on how to deactivate accounts, but not delete them.

The Canadian government expressed concern that Facebook held onto to private information from Canadian users, even after they deactivated their accounts.

"Our productive and constructive dialogue with the commissioner's office has given us an opportunity to improve our policies and practices in a way that will provide even greater transparency and control for Facebook users," Elliot Schrage, vp global communications and public policy at Facebook, added in a statement. "We believe that these changes are not only great for our users and address all of the commissioners' outstanding concerns, but they also set a new standard for the industry," he added.

Specific measures to clean up Canadian privacy gaps include describing more clearly a number of practices, explaining why Facebook collects information like someone's date of birth, and distinguishing between account deactivation and deletion. The Canadian investigation into Facebook followed a complaint from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa.