Facebook’s latest privacy troubles

After years of controversy, Facebook may well end up in a Canadian Federal court this fall.

In August last year, Canada’s privacy watchdog, Jennifer Stoddart, announced that Facebook had agreed to improve its privacy protocols to be compliant with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

But instead of working to address the concerns, last December Facebook implemented changes that effectively further reduced user privacy.  These changes effectively required users to manually modify settings to avoid friends, personal information and photos from being shared.  According to the Wikipedia entry Critcism of Facebook:

… a user whose “Family and Relationships” information was set to be viewable by “Friends Only” would default to being viewable by “Everyone” (publicly viewable). That is, information such as the gender of partner you are interested in, relationship status, and family relations became viewable to those even without a Facebook account.

Facebook clearly have decided that the increased revenue possible from sharing personal information is worth battling government privacy commissioners and lawyers.  And that’s fine — so long as our government continues to enforce our laws and bring violators to account, we can play that game too.

I’ve never had a Facebook account.  I can be patient.

But those that still trust Facebook with personal information — and haven’t bothered to examine the minutia of the site’s privacy settings — will continue to have their personal information shared with 400 million users and thousands of advertisers, data aggregators and, well, pretty much anyone else on the Internet.  At least until the wheels of justice grind to conclusion…

Mike

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