Privacy commission probing Facebook again
Canada's privacy commission is again investigating Facebook after receiving a new complaint from the public regarding how the website handles users' data.
The complaint addresses a tool implemented by the social-networking site in mid-December that allegedly makes users' information more readily available than before. New default settings, which users were asked to review at the time, have actually taken a step backward, the complaint said.
"The individual's complaint mirrors some of the concerns that our office has heard and expressed to Facebook in recent months," said Elizabeth Denham, the assistant privacy commissioner, in a statement.
"Some Facebook users are disappointed by certain changes being made to the site — changes that were supposed to strengthen their privacy and the protection of their personal information."
In August, Facebook agreed to boost privacy settings and give its 350 million users around the world more control over their data after the privacy commissioner's first investigation. That probe found the website breached Canadian privacy laws by allowing third-party developers, who create quizzes and games for the website, to access users' information without their "meaningful consent."
The commission recommended that Facebook clarify to users how it uses their information, and to give them better control over their own data.
The website agreed to make changes and to have them implemented within a year.
Facebook spokeswoman Alex Brown said the company had not yet seen the complaint but is "confident that the transition process begun more than a month ago was transparent, consistent with user expectations and within the law."
She added that any recommended changes to users' settings were clearly shown repeatedly and were not implemented until accepted. Users were also required to review their final settings and directed in how they could reverse or further change them.
Facebook has been dealing with privacy concerns around the world for much of the past year. Website founder Mark Zuckerberg provoked controversy this month while speaking at a conference in San Francisco when he said that privacy was no longer a social norm.
"People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people," he said. "That social norm is just something that has evolved over time."