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Facebook In Legal Showdown Over Privacy
 
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20-Aug-2009  
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Facebook has been hit by legal action in the US at the same time as Canadian authorities are examining the site to see whether it breaks privacy laws. A deadline for the site to comply with Canadian legislation expired on Monday. The row could have implications for Facebook's 250 million users.

Canada's privacy commissioner wrote a report last month highlighting "serious gaps" in the way users' personal information is protected, and gave the site 30 days to respond. At the same time the deadline passed, Facebook was hit with a civil lawsuit from five users in the US.They claim the site breaks privacy laws by misleading them over how their information is used. Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the company "see no merit in this suit and we plan to fight it". If the site lost either battle, it could force it to change the way it operates.


Canadian authorities will review whether Facebook brought it the changes it called for before deciding if they will pursue it through the courts. A spokeswoman told Sky News Online it was too early to tell what action would be taken. "We're hopeful that Facebook has responded to the concerns we raised in our investigation report, but we're not in a position to determine that at this time - we need to review their actions thoroughly," she said. The commissioner's team were most worried by the difficulty users have in deleting their accounts, rather than just deactivating them.

"Apps", such as games and quizzes, may also leave accounts open to abuse, as they may be able to access more personal information than necessary. The site unveiled more privacy controls in June to enable members to be more specific about what details can be seen or used. Many users have joined groups calling for stronger safeguards on content.
 
 
 
 
 

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