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Monday, July 20, 2009

Facebook breaks Privacy Laws in Canada

Facebook, one of the largest social networking sites, has been reported to have broken privacy laws in Canada. It was said that facebook could be hauled into court amid concerns that there are "serious gaps" in their policies protecting members' privacy.

The Canadian privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, has investigated the site and warned it could be breaking the law.

It has published a report which suggests that users do not understand how to delete private information and their details could fall into the wrong hands. This was noted after they found out that Facebook was keeping information of users even after they have closed their accounts.

It is also reported that if the social networking site does not address the privacy concerns within 30 days, it could face legal action.

The investigating team found some "serious privacy gaps" when they looked into the popular site's practices.

The commissioner was most concerned by the difficulty users have in deleting their accounts, rather than just deactivating them.

Applications or "Apps", such as games and quizzes, may also leave accounts open to abuse since Facebook did not introduce proper initiatives for protecting users' personal information from the developers.

Not enough is done to stop the site's 950,000 third-party developers accessing personal information, the report said.

"we urge Facebook to implement all of our recommendations to further enhance their site, ensure they are in compliance with privacy law, and ultimately show themselves as models of privacy", Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

The findings are an important contribution to the relatively new debate over how social networking sites should protect personal data.

In June, Facebook unveiled new privacy controls to enable members to be more specific about which friends or strangers can access their information. But, the Canadian body still believes that some areas remain confusing or incomplete.

More than 250 million people, including 12 million Canadians, have Facebook profiles worldwide.

Members have also used the site itself to voice their privacy issues.

More than 70,000 people signed up to a group called "Facebook: Stop Invading My Privacy", while nearly a million joined a group complaining third-party apps sought friends' details.

Facebook has said it will work with the commissioner in order to raise awareness about its security and privacy controls.

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