Watchdog asking court to declare that Facebook violated Canadians’ privacy

Click to play video: 'B.C. and federal privacy commissioners blast Facebook'
B.C. and federal privacy commissioners blast Facebook
WATCH ABOVE: B.C. and federal privacy commissioners blast Facebook (April 25, 2019) – Apr 25, 2019

The federal privacy watchdog has launched legal action against Facebook following an investigation last year.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said it filed an application with the federal court asking for a declaration that the social media giant violated federal privacy law.

In April, Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien, along with the B.C. commissioner, released a report that identified major gaps in Facebook’s privacy protection practices.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint that Facebook allowed third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, to view information collected by a personality quiz app called This Is Your Digital Life. The now-defunct company used Facebook data for political purposes.

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The probe concluded that Facebook did not obtain “meaningful consent” from users who installed the app or their friends. It also found that Facebook’s safeguards for user information were inadequate.

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The report said that the data of 622,000 users in Canada was available to the app’s developers.

Facebook officials believe they have co-operated in good faith with the investigation and say they have offered to take action to address the recommendations. But the company’s position is that the steps the privacy commissioner is seeking go beyond what is reasonable or required by law.

Click to play video: 'Facebook broke law, failed to protect Canadian users’ privacy'
Facebook broke law, failed to protect Canadian users’ privacy

“The Commission is choosing to pursue legal action despite our many attempts to work with them and offer measures that would go above and beyond what other companies do, and despite the fact that there is no evidence that Canadian user data was shared with Cambridge Analytica,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

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“We look forward to defending the many proactive and robust improvements we’ve made to our platform to better protect people’s personal information.”

Facebook has taken steps intended to address privacy concerns, including limiting third-party developers’ access to user info, improved data-sharing controls and offering a “bounty” for uncovering data misuse.

In September, Facebook suspended what it called tens of thousands of apps as a result of an investigation in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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