Facebook in the hot seat in Canada

Privacy watchdog says site lax about user information

TORONTO -- Canada's privacy watchdog has fingered Facebook for breaching federal rules by not protecting the private information of 12 million Canadian users.

"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," federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said as she released the results of an investigation into U.S.-based social network site on Thursday.

Stoddart said Facebook offers confusing or incomplete privacy settings, including information on how to deactivate accounts, but not delete them.

The Canadian probe also exposed concerns about how Facebook shares users' personal information with third-party developers to create new applications such as games and quizzes.

"Facebook lacks adequate safeguards to effectively restrict these outside developers from accessing profile information," the investigation concluded.

The Canadian investigation into Facebook followed a complaint from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa.

Stoddart urged Facebook to clean up its privacy gaps to comply with Canadian legislation.