Privacy Commissioner of Canada takes legal action against Facebook

The commissioner says that the social media giant breached privacy laws

The Privacy Commissioner has filed a Notice of Application with the Federal Court to declare that Facebook violated Canada’s private sector privacy law.

This comes after an investigation from the commissioner’s office that followed a complaint that Facebook had allowed an organization to use an app to access users’ personal information and then share that information with other organizations, including Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook disputed the findings from the investigation, and has refused to implement recommendations to address the flaws that were discovered.

The application filed by the commissioner’s office asks the Federal Court to declare that Facebook infringed on the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA).

The commissioner is seeking an order requiring Facebook to outline how it will modify its practices to comply with PIPEDA. Further, the application requests another order to prohibit Facebook from further collecting, using and disclosing any personal information of users in any manner that doesn’t comply with PIPEDA.

Lastly, the application asks for an order requiring the social media giant to publish a public notice of any action taken to correct the practices that don’t comply with PIPEDA.

The commissioner’s office notes that the Federal Court has the authority to impose orders to require organizations to change its practices to comply with the law.

Facebook has defended its position and says that it has done enough to better protect users’ protection on its platform.

“The Commission is choosing to pursue legal action despite our many attempts to work with them and offer measures that would go above and beyond what other companies do, and despite the fact that there is no evidence that Canadian user data was shared with Cambridge Analytica,” the social media giant said in an emailed statement.

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

This legal process will likely be lengthy, since the commissioner cannot just provide his report of finds to the court. He is required to provide evidence to the court showcasing that Facebook infringed on the law.

Update 06/02/20 1:25 ET: The article was updated to include a statement from Facebook.

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