Canada privacy chief criticises new Facebook changes


MONTREAL: Facebook users may be targets of blackmail after changes that erode personal security protections on the world’s most popular social network website, Canada’s privacy czar warned.

In assessing Facebook’s announcement that it was embracing third-party integration, privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart expressed concern over how outside technology firms that develop games and other applications for the network could mine users’ personal data and keep it indefinitely.

They were previously required to delete personal data after 24 hours.

“I’m very concerned about these changes. More than half a million developers will have access to this data,” Stoddart told The Globe and Mail newspaper.

“The information will be stored indefinitely and it opens the possibility that a lot of people can be blackmailed from all corners of the world.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made headlines last week during the firm’s annual “f8” developers conference in San Francisco, where he rolled out a series of features, such as social plug-ins and “Open Graph” protocol, aimed at dramatically broadening the web’s interconnectedness.

Stoddart, who has overseen a number of privacy rights investigations, has taken a strong stand against the growing popularity of social networks, and Facebook in particular.

After a lengthy probe, she made a series of recommendations to the site in July about the privacy of its users.

Facebook, which has around 400 million subscribers worldwide, agreed to better secure user privacy last year after a Canadian probe led by Stoddart criticised the company’s policy of holding onto personal information from deactivated accounts in violation of Canadian law.

The firm was also accused of inadequately restricting outside software developers’ access have to personal information people put on profile pages. — AFP/Relaxnews

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