Social media privacy concerns could see Commons probe

One of the NDP's youngest caucus members wants a parliamentary committee to investigate whether social media websites are doing enough to protect the privacy of the Canadians who use them.

NDP MP Charmaine Borg bringing motion to House ethics committee Tuesday

NDP MP Charmaine Borg, seen here working in her Terrebonne, Que. riding office last July, will ask the Commons ethics committee Tuesday to launch a study into whether social media websites adequately protect the privacy of Canadians. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

One of the NDP's youngest caucus members wants a parliamentary committee to investigate whether social media websites are doing enough to protect the privacy of the Canadians who use them.

Quebec MP Charmaine Borg, 21, will bring forward a motion at Tuesday's meeting of the House of Commons committee on access to information, privacy and ethics calling for MPs to study the measures taken by Google, Facebook and other social media to protect the personal information of millions of users.

"Times are changing and Parliament needs to keep up," said Borg in a press release issued Monday. "This is the new frontier in managing Big Data and keeping Canadians privacy safe from the appetites of market research interests."

The release calls the popular internet sites "warehouses of massive amounts of personal data."

The motion calls for the committee to take a specific focus on the impacts on the privacy and the protection of the personal information of youth.

Borg was one of the so-called "McGill four," a group of university students who ran for the NDP in Quebec and were elected rather unexpectedly one year ago.

"While these sites provide enormous utility to millions of Canadians from all walks of life, users must have confidence that their personal information is being protected," Borg said in her release.

The same Commons ethics committee recently heard testimony from a former Liberal staffer who used a Twitter account to go public with personal details from the divorce file of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. 

Conservatives criticized that use of social media as an inappropriate invasion of a cabinet minister's privacy.

The "Vikileaks" tweets, as well as another Twitter campaign, #tellviceverything, quickly became popular with social media users upset with the Harper government for its controversial online surveillance bill, C-30.