Canada Approves Facebook Changes

Published: September 24th 2010
in News » Local

Pic: screenshot

The Canadian privacy commissioner is content with the changes made by social networking giant Facebook, following an investigation of the site's policies last year. The commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, said the social network had "vastly improved" the sharing of personal information with third-party developers.


In May, Facebook introduced a series of wide ranging changes to its site, following pressure from privacy commissioners and campaigners around the world. Stoddart welcomes these changes and believes that Facebook now provides users "with clear information" (or at least better than before) about the service's privacy policies.


One of the major concerns of the commissioner was the way Facebook used to give third-party developers "virtually unrestricted access" to Facebook users' personal information, thus allowing them to invade their privacy. The new model means developers must inform users of the data they need and seek consent to use it.


"We are also pleased that Facebook has developed simplified privacy settings and has implemented a tool that allows users to apply a privacy setting to each photo or comment they post," said Stoddart. But there is a still long road ahead, she added. "Facebook is constantly evolving and we are actively following the changes there. We will take action if we feel there are potential new violations.”


Michael Richter, Chief Privacy Counsel at Facebook, responded to the commissioner's conclusions: "Making the privacy controls on Facebook comprehensive and easy to understand is an important part of our commitment to giving every person the power to control their own Facebook experience, and will continue to be even though this investigation by the OPC [Office of the Privacy Commissioner] has been concluded."


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's rather controversial founder, has said publicly that he thinks that life on the web should be social "by default."


However, Stoddard does not share this ambition. "We have cautioned Facebook against expanding the categories of user information made available to everyone on the Internet," she responded.


Moreover, she recommended that Facebook makes its default settings for photo albums more restrictive. Currently it recommends that users make albums available to everyone.


Finally, as mentioned above, while there is a still a long road ahead in terms of privacy settings, the fact that Facebook is changing thanks to regulators should cheer us all since in the end we are the ones whose personal data wanders around.

Related articles: (Facebook, Zuckerberg, social networking)

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