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Facebook To Comply with Canadian Privacy Laws


Social networking site Facebook announced plans to give users more control over how their information is shared with third party developers, as well as offering a clearer option for users to deactivate or delete their accounts.

“Giving people more control over what information they share and with whom is at the heart of how we think about privacy at Facebook,” the company wrote in its blog. “As people better understand how information is shared and gain more control over it, they become more comfortable and confident in sharing.”

The changes will give users clearer notification and detail about privacy policy settings and will involve some changes to Facebook’s privacy policy. Not coincidentally, the changes will also bring Facebook into compliance with Canadian privacy law; Canada’s privacy commissioner had previously threatened to take Facebook to court if the company did not resolve “serious gaps” in the way it handles users’ personal information and retains data from deactivated accounts.

Canada’s decision to go toe-to-toe with Facebook over privacy policies is expected to have ramifications for other social networking sites (like MySpace) as well as socially-aware services like Twitter and Flickr. In Facebook’s case, the changes will impact users in many countries, not just Canada.

Among several criticisms of Facebook’s operations regarding user privacy, Canada’s privacy commissioner had maintained that Facebook’s policy of retaining data from deactivated accounts for an indefinite period was a violation of Canadian privacy laws. Facebook maintained that the majority of deactivated accounts wind up being re-activated later, and retaining the data was a convenience feature for users who decide to come back to Facebook.

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