Facebook vs. Canada. It's about to get ugly.

It looks as though Facebook might face a court appearance before a federal judge in Canada real soon.

This ongoing battle has to do with Facebook’s privacy settings. Canada’s privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, is currently drawing up a possible new investigation into Facebook for violations against Canada’s private-sector privacy act.

Spokeswoman Anne-Marie Hayden states:

“Although they’ve done some things right, in a few areas, they seem to have gone in the opposite direction, and that’s been disappointing. We’re waiting for Facebook to honor its commitments, but if we do see new violations of the law, we may launch our own investigation, which could be very narrowly scoped.”

The Vancouver Sun article then goes on to state how, while there are privacy restrictions that you can adjust in your user settings, they are quite laborious and difficult to understand fully. Users are asking Facebook to make this easier.

I would have to agree with this. I’ve tried to edit my personal Facebook settings and I like to think I’m somewhat intelligent (yes.. feel free to insert a laugh here) and somewhat computer savvy, (again, insert your laugh here) yet I also had trouble with it.

Facebook looks to be up against some heavy hitters as technology lawyer, David Fewer,  who is the director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. He will be one of the people fighting for Canadian privacy rights against the technology giant.

Fewer says: “My guess is by September, we’re in Federal Court and its about time, too.”

It seems as though most Canadians, myself included, are curious as to where all their information is going. It’s common knowledge that Facebook shares your information with companies that create applications, but as much as my info has been passed out, when it comes down to it, it’s my own fault.

If you don’t want your information shared publicly, then don’t sign up for Facebook.

Does this mean Facebook might get shut down in Canada? I really don’t see that happening as I can’t even imagine the uproar it would cause. I’ve got numerous photography jobs because of networking on Facebook so it’s a very useful tool for myself.

Has anyone ever had an issue with their information being shared? Let me know in the comments.

Source: Vancouver Sun

Written by Jay Perry

Photographer and video game junkie from Canada. Follow me on twitter @jayperryMVM

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  • Wherever you are, whatever country, or wherever you go on the internet, the privacy rule is the same: if you don’t want your personal information out there, don’t put it on the internet.

    • nopz

      Sherry, if you stop making statements as dumb as this, one day it might actually look like you’re not the idiot in your gene pool.

      • me

        Amen! Get of the net Sherry!!

      • Anonymous

        nopz is correct. Sherry Facebook have even violated their OWN privacy policy. Besides people have only been sharing on the basis that their friends see their stuff but Facebook has selfishly made it too hard (purposely) for people to make the right decision (intelligence being no help when it’s deceptive).

  • Your article is insightful, however there are some major grammatical context and spelling errors. Lack of precision in the proofreading process (prior to publishing) may cause readers to question your credibility. The idea of Facebook being banned is gaining popularity, so thanks for writing about it! 🙂

    • Steven

      Jessica, your first comma should have been a period. Instead of context, should be “contextual.” Also, as much as you may love the passive tense, it’s very looked down upon. Stop being an internet grammar Nazi to inflate your own self-esteem.

      • Conrad

        Ba-Dum Tish!

      • Lanae

        Actually, there is supposed to be a semicolon before ‘however’ and a comma after ‘however’. But nice try anyway, Steven.

      • Paul

        Actually, as, “[y]our article is insightful,” is a complete clause, it can be a period or a semicolon. Nice try anyway, Lanae. Additionally, conjunctions (i.e. “but”) don’t go at the start of a sentence.

      • Super G

        Actually Lanae, you are wrong. Steven has it right. However, in being so particular about this we negate the point we were trying to make for Jessica. This is not an essay contest. Worrying about grammar is a form of imperialistic oppression and a waste of time, especially on the internet.

      • Bob

        It’s “passive voice,” not “passive tense.” And “it’s looked down upon” is itself written in the passive voice.

    • The errors have been addressed, thank you.

  • I know there is alot of talk about Facebooks privacy policy, but I personally don’t think I’m affected. As some mentioned in the comments before me, if you don’t want information shared, don’t put it on the Internet in the first place. I think all information is eventually shared, it seems social networking companies have a hard time controlling themselves. If it leads to more profit, they will do it. If not, they will do it secretly until there caught, then stop and make excuses. Facebook and MySpace have already been accused of sharing data behind the backs of their user’s.

  • Brett

    Wow. Really? It took me all of about two seconds to “fix” my facebook privacy settings. Maybe instead of complaining about it, someone should write a guide?

  • amy

    @Sherry, I disagree. When I signed up for Facebook, I didn’t sign up for secondary businesses to have access to the information that I used or provided, on Facebook. It’s like saying I got a telephone, therefore my telephone provider can give away my phone number to outside companies. No, that’s not right and I have the right to tell them no. It should be the default, and I should be a willing participant when it comes to being involved in outside businesses and/or applications.

    • ed


      I have to fix something for you…

      ‘When I signed up for Facebook, I didn’t sign up for secondary businesses to have access to the information that I used or provided, on Facebook’
      Really it should say, ‘When I signed up for facebook, I didn’t bother to read the user agreement.’


      • Aleks

        Actually, the user agreement is subject to change without notice 😛

      • It’s not that we didn’t read the user agreement. It’s just that Facebook keeps changing their privacy policies, often without informing those that have signed up. When I joined Facebook 5-6 years ago, Facebook didn’t HAVE any of the aps or business partners with which to share my information. It wasn’t even part of their policy. Since then, they’ve slyly changed it, often without telling anyone that they need to revisit their privacy settings to make sure their information is still private.

    • Matt

      Amy, your point of view is saying that using a phone doesn’t give marketers the right to call you, and same with Facebook. Here’s the problem with your opinion; you’re comparing apples to oranges. Marketers can only contact you once you’ve entered your contact information in a public method they can access (That could be through contests, websites, magazines, etc.). Once you’ve done that, it seems to be a free for all to your information. You’re looking at Facebook as though it is the comparison to your phone line… and that’s not quite it. Your internet is like your phone, but Facebook? Facebook would be like phone sex. Sorry Amy, Facebook is another website. Just like all the other sleazy websites out there they are trying to make money off you. You can’t look at it as “yours” (as well as they give that impression), you’re merely using their web space to host your private info with a degree of privacy.

      Now take a look at my e-mail. I consciously thought about which e-mail to leave up there for a contact because I know very well how easily third party spamming can happen. Never put any confidential information on the Internet that you aren’t comfortable with sharing unless the website is protected by a digital certificate by a legitimate company (that’s when the address bar is gold). Facebook gives uninformed people a false sense of security, and it isn’t right. They’re reeled people in, and now they are taking advantage of it.

    • Stu

      Actually, I think you’ll find you did. Did you read every page of the terms and conditions you agreed to when pressed ‘Agree’

  • Jo Dean

    Wow, thats totally insane dude. I mean like seriously.


  • Matthew

    “I’ve got numerous photography jobs because of networking on Facebook so it’s a very useful tool for myself.”


    • Jeremy

      Actually, ‘Got’ is correct, unless you speak American English.

      • nick

        Apparently “gotten” is actually an English oddity in dialects other than American English. Though the OP said he was Canadian, and Canadians do speak more or less what is known as “American” English.
        But for all intents and purposes, “got” in this context does just fine, as it would in the UK.

    • nopz

      GOT is correct, dude.

  • Doug

    Facebook is for suckers and people who are too vain to get a real life. Mark Suckerberg can take his crap software and shove it up his arse. They couldn’t make money by any intelligent means so they had to sell users info to marketers. They should have called it “Buttbook”

  • mikej

    Can someone explain the legal standing the Canadian Privacy commisioner would have over Facebook? It is a free service that has no physical prescence in Canada.

  • Jessica Davies

    I don’t see facebook as being a large privacy issue so long as http://www.dirtyphonebook.com exists.

    I think Facebook’s privacy controls should be simplified, but I don’t think that’s a job for the government to determine.

  • Ken

    Hi folks, I know it’s kind of annoying for everyone, signing onto a website where you wanna share yourself with the world, but only to a degree. I personally have an issue the same as everyone else, I just wanna share my thoughts and ideas and not necessarily my address and credit score, which you can find out through third parties that Facebook pretty much HANDS OUT to companies now.

    Something I learned however after speaking with my father was, it doesn’t matter if your stuff is posted or not, if someone ACTUALLY wants to find something out about you, like your credit score, or your address, or who lived in the house before you did, they can for a few tiny fee’s.

    First, it’s nice to think that if a company doesn’t follow YOUR countries laws then they can sue, however there’s a small problem with this. First off, if a website is based out of the U.S. and we’ll say based out of lets say California, then the laws to exist for that particular company would be California and people whom access that website would be bound by that states laws for publication.

    It’s like having someone visit your city and say that they don’t have to pay attention to your laws, just the laws of their city and country, it doesn’t really work, as much as I want privacy, I’ve learned that in some ways, I just gotta suck it up and understand that there really is no such thing, congratulations everyone, welcome to the world of free speech, talk all you want, there isn’t really a mask to hide you anymore.

  • ajd

    I think facebook should completely eliminate all privacy settings and instead write, “If you don’t want to the world to know something or see something about you, don’t post it in on the Internet. Don’t take pictures of you drunk at a party, wearing black-face. Don’t post information that spammers could use. Take responsibility for your actions instead of complaining to a service you volunteered to use. Thanks!”

  • I don’t see what all the fuss is about either, use it or don’t, any information…including your email addy can be found if people know where to look and how to use the information they can gain, albeit for a small sum sometimes, I don’t know what Canada and the USA are like, but over here in the UK you can get a person’s address and often their phone number, along with dates of birth, marriage, partners names and all sorts of information if you know what you’re doing..

    The ONLY safe way is…if you don’t want to show it off, don’t show it off 😉

  • bobby labonte

    steven: as much as everyone loves a trolling a$$hole, they might be annoyed at your doing so ineptly. jessica’s first period was correct. the comma precedes the conjunctive “however,” creating a joined sentence. additionally, beginning a sentence with a conjunctive word, ie and, or, so, etc, is an example of solecism, though “however” is disputed in this regard. “context” was also used correctly, although it would have been much clearer to simply say “… major grammar and spelling…”. finally, it’s ironic that you criticize her for use of the passive tense when you yourself employ it in the process! see, if you wanted to phrase it actively you’d say, all caddy and cleverly too, steven, “as much as you love the past tense, linguists (or actually any entity possible of agency) look down upon using it.”
    besides, her comment was fair and constructive; it’s important for writers to have those things pointed out, especially when done in a complementary manner. good luck and god bless america!

  • Actually, the author has a good point. The settings are quite difficult to track, and some of them are NOT in the privacy/security area (particularly those having to do with blocking the new instant personalization ‘feature’).

    Also, as for Ed’s comment about people not reading the privacy agreement: it’s pointless, as they change it wil-they or nil-they, and at this point it is one of the longest PA for online services out there (as some recent articles are pointing out, it’s actually longer than the US constitution!).

    For Brett: I actually have a brief guide and some handy links up on my own blog, at http://nirdvana.com/2010/05/19/facebook-privacy-security-tips/ . Hopefully some of the readers find it useful!

  • Sean

    I found the new privacy settings easy enough to figure out, although unnecessarily tedious, but I was really pissed off that they changed them without actually telling me. In the end, I deleted practically every bit of information I posted – but for some reason, you can delete your interests. There is actually no way to delete them. You can hide them, which I did – but now I’ve started getting updates in my feed from the bands and tv shows I hid.

  • I’ve never been a big fan of facebook. Maybe i’m just a private person, but I really don’t want anybody to know what I’ve been up to at the click of a button. I avoid pictures with people b/c I hate that it always turns up on facebook. I basically just use it as an email app, but It really takes work to keep your profile from brimming with random things about you that you don’t want others to know.

  • Mb

    We’re Canadians. We like our privacy private, our coffee creamed, and our governments heavily ineffective and skewed towards favoring Ontario and Quebec at the expense of others.

  • Nik

    I love Canada. Without you guys, we’d have to pick on the people beyond the southern border.

    Oh. Wait.

  • @Brett if it took you two seconds to “fix” your settings, I have news for you, you probably missed a couple.

    “The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook” is an excellent graphic imaging which shows exactly how Facebook default privacy settings have changed over 5 years. It’s a real eye opener. http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/

    My computer guy recommends that we should assume that everything we put on FB (or any other website we do not ourselves have the keys to) can become public.

    @mikej: FB is present on the physical Internet in Canada. What they call the infrastructure. This is why Pakistan was able to lock Facebook out. The Privacy Commissioner has had FB on the carpet already.

  • Tyson

    I have long been against Facebook as a general rule, but the information posted on Facebook doesn’t miraculously appear by itself. It is all entered into the website into little boxes that the user must click on, or use the tab key, to begin typing in.

    That being said, Facebook really should set the defaults tighter, because there are a lot of people out there who could get hurt.

    (And could we please stop all the grammar corrections? If you can read a post and make either heads or tails out of it, then just respond, don’t personally attack.)

  • While I have to agree that it’s no one’s fault but one’s own if one’s info is up on Facebook, there IS the little matter of them changing the terms of agreement with little to no notice in ways that expose your information in ways it wasn’t before. I think that’s a huge part of the uproar – FB is proceeding in a fairly underhanded and sneaky way to make a buck by selling your info out from under you when you thought it was safe.

    And for those who are interested in securing their FB info rather than abandoning the site altogether, I’ve put together some of the things you can do on my own blog at http://nirdvana.com/2010/05/19/facebook-privacy-security-tips/#more-41

  • Please check out this link:

    http://mustafafteja.com/ “Fight Against Facebook”

    There is also a class action law suit being initiated by Karen Beth Young, and her site is:

    http://facebookaccountdeletion.blogspot.com/ “Facebook Account Deletion”

    Please stop by and leave a comment if you feel this is something that you are concerned about.

    James With

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