The Facebook symbol is seen on a motherboard in this picture illustration taken April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic /Illustration

Facebook fined for false claims about privacy 

Canada’s Competition Bureau has ordered Facebook to pay a $9-million penalty for what the bureau says is making “false or misleading claims about the privacy of Canadians’ personal information.”

Facebook will also pay an additional $500,000 to cover the costs of the bureau’s investigation.

The settlement, announced Tuesday, follows an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices between 2012 and 2018. 

The bureau concluded that the company gave the impression that users could control who could see and access their personal information using privacy features and settings–including the personal information of users’ friends who had installed “certain third-party applications.”

But, the bureau said, Facebook did not limit the sharing of users’ personal information with some third-party developers in a manner consistent with the claims.

“Canadians expect and deserve truth from businesses in the digital economy, and claims about privacy are no exception,” Competition Bureau Commissioner Matthew Boswell wrote in the statement. 

Facebook has about 24 million active monthly users in Canada. (CBC News/Reuters)

“The Competition Bureau will not hesitate to crack down on any business that makes false or misleading claims to Canadians about how they use personal data, whether they are multinational corporations like Facebook or smaller companies.”

As part of the settlement, Facebook agreed not to make misleading representations about the extent to which users can control access to their personal data on Facebook and the Messenger app.

In a statement, Facebook said that although the company disagrees with the finding, it is resolving the matter by entering into the consent agreement. 

The Competition Bureau says Facebook has 24 million monthly active users in Canada.

Last year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission levied a $5-billion fine against the company, the largest it has ever imposed on a tech company.

Both Britain and France have also gone after Facebook, and last April, Canada’s privacy commissioner took Facebook to court following an investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices.

With files from CBC News (Jackson Weaver, Catharine Tunney, Mark Gollam), The Canadian Press (David Paddon)

Categories: International, Internet, Science & Technology
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