Facebook status update: Privacy dispute is easing

From the Toronto Star Aug 18, 2009 04:30 AM

Susan Delacourt
Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA–Facebook has given Canada’s privacy commissioner formal assurances that it is tightening up control over how people’s personal information is treated on the huge social networking site.

The promises, delivered yesterday along with a schedule for improvements, appear to be a sign that this Canadian privacy dispute with Facebook will not escalate into a Federal Court case.

Yesterday was the 30-day deadline for Facebook to respond to a strongly worded report issued last month by Canada’s privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, criticizing how people’s personal information was being treated by the global giant in online friendships.

If Stoddart is not happy with Facebook’s response, she has 15 days to decide whether to get the Federal Court of Canada involved.

About 12 million Canadians use Facebook to connect with friends and colleagues. Canada, with Stoddart’s report, became the first country in the world to try to put some legal boundaries on the use of personal information on the site.

Alexandra Brown, a Toronto spokesperson for Facebook, said a formal response was sent yesterday to the privacy commissioner’s office, complete with timelines for Facebook to respond to the concerns raised in last month’s report. Over the past month, the two sides have reportedly been working well together, with privacy commission officials paying a visit to Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., to negotiate a compromise.

"I know there’s been lots of discussion and there will continue to be discussion over the next 15 days," Brown said.


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