Privacy Commissioner says Facebook violated PIPEDA

OPC made an application to Federal Court Thursday, seeking declaration Facebook broke the law

Privacy Commissioner says Facebook violated PIPEDA

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada filed a notice of application with the Federal Court Thursday, seeking a declaration Facebook violated the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

The court action stems from the data mining operation by Cambridge Analytica. Creating a Facebook app, the company disguised itself as an online quiz and harvested the profiles of up to 87 million users as of an April 2018 disclosure. Using its insight into voter behaviour and preferences, Cambridge Analytica also consulted for political campaigns including the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump.   

The OPC and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia conducted a joint investigation last year and “found major shortcomings in Facebook’s privacy practices,” said the OPC announcement.

Facebook rejected the investigation’s findings and ignored its recommendations, said the announcement.

The OPC’s application asks the Federal Court for the following:

  • A declaration that Facebook contravened the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA);
  • An order requiring Facebook to implement effective, specific and easily accessible measures to obtain, and ensure it maintains, meaningful consent from all users;
  • An order requiring Facebook to specify the technical revisions, modifications and amendments to be made to its practices to achieve compliance with PIPEDA;
  • An order that the parties follow-up with the court, as well as an order that the court retain jurisdiction for the purposes of ongoing monitoring and enforcement;
  • An order prohibiting Facebook from further collecting, using and disclosing any personal information of users in any manner that contravenes PIPEDA; and
  • An order requiring Facebook to publish a public notice of any action taken or proposed to be taken to correct its practices that contravene PIPEDA.

A Facebook company spokesperson told Canadian Lawyer there is no evidence Canadian user data was shared with Cambridge Analytica and that the social media company made “many attempts” to work with the privacy watchdog.

“We look forward to defending the many proactive and robust improvements we’ve made to our platform,” the spokesperson said.

The OPC declined Canadian Lawyer’s interview request because the matter is before the courts.

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