Briefing

Privacy commissioner taking Facebook to court to try and force privacy changes

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The social media giant allowed unauthorized third-party apps to access user data and did not properly oversee their privacy policies, or get proper consent from users and their networks to release their information, an investigation by federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien and his British Columbia counterpart found. Facebook did not agree with the findings, or to implement recommendations the watchdogs said would ensure it was getting “meaningful consent” from users. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The commissioner’s suit shows just how limited his powers are to enforce his findings and recommendations. Therrien has been calling for the power to fine non-compliant companies and proactively investigate firms, and Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith sponsored a private member’s bill to allow him to charge non-compliant organizations up to $30 million. Neither attempt has gone anywhere. Therrien figures a court order will be harder for Facebook to ignore, so he’s going the judicial route. The company risks contempt of court if it defies a judge, whereas it’s treating the commissioner’s findings as “mere opinions,” he said. Even large fines don’t seem to worry Facebook, or its investors—the company said yesterday it expected to be fined up to US$5 billion by the U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner for privacy violations, and its stock still jumped more than six per cent Thursday.