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Facebook Privacy: California, Canada Concerned



Facebook IconFacebook is gearing up to face off with the government again—this time over privacy concerns in two different venues: the California courts and a Canadian commission.

In California, five users are suing Facebook for disclosing their information to third parties for commercial purposes, without the users’ permission. The plaintiffs are two children under the age of 13 (who, BTW, aren’t allowed to use the site according to the TOS), a user of the “original Facebook,” a model/actress and a photographer. They argue that Facebook violated California consumer privacy laws. They’re looking for a trial, damages and fees. Facebook, naturally, says they “see no merit to this suit and . . . plan to fight it.”

Meanwhile, in Canada (as all good adventures begin!) . . . Facebook is facing scrutiny from Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddard. Stoddard says Facebook’s privacy policy violates Canadian privacy laws.

In a complaint from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), there are potential problems with Facebook’s practices including: collecting users’ date of birth, the default privacy settings, advertising, third-party apps, future uses of personal info, collecting personal info from sites other than Facebook, deactivating/deleting accounts and the accounts of dead users, non-users’ personal info, mobile usage, account monitoring for suspicious activity and potential deception and misrepresentation.

So, basically, everything.

The Privacy Commission notified Facebook with a 30-deadline thirty days ago today—so Facebook is supposed to respond today. The commission’s recommendations included “clarifying Facebook’s privacy policies, making it easier for users to remove their profiles and curbing the amount of personal information the site collects from its members,” with special concerns about third party apps. Facebook is supposed to reply with a proposal and time line for change.

What do you think? Will Facebook change its policies (willingly or unwillingly), or will they skate past with a song-and-dance explanation for regulators?