World News

Canadian agency asks federal court to declare Facebook contravened privacy law

By Moira Warburton

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s privacy commissioner asked a federal court to declare that Facebook had broken federal privacy law for the private sector, according to a notice of application filed on Thursday.

The application also asked for an order requiring Facebook to “implement effective, specific and easily accessible measures to obtain, and ensure it maintains, meaningful consent from all users,” according to an announcement of the legal filing issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC).

Facebook expressed disappointment that OPC was pursuing legal action, “despite our many attempts to work with them and offer measures that would go above and beyond what other companies do,” a company spokesman said in an email.

“We look forward to defending the many proactive and robust improvements we’ve made to our platform to better protect people’s personal information.”

The OPC also asked the court to issue an order prohibiting Facebook from further collecting, using and disclosing any personal information of users in any manner that contravenes the country’s privacy law.

The announcement from the OPC on the lawsuit warned that the legal proceedings “may be lengthy” and timing could depend on “numerous procedural issues.”

The lawsuit follows a joint investigation, released in April last year, between the OPC and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, which found that Facebook failed to obtain “valid and meaningful consent” from users relating to disclosure of personal information to third-party applications.

Canada joins the ranks of other countries who have sued or investigated the social media giant, including Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Brazil and various states and government agencies in the United States.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)