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Facebook Settles Privacy Charges In Canada With A Paltry Pay $9 Million Fine

Facebook Settles Privacy Charges In Canada With A Paltry Pay $9 Million Fine
In a settlement with the Competition Bureau of Canada, the United States based social media giant Facebook Inc. will pay $9.5 million. But eh tech giant will not admit to any wrongdoing to the charges and allegations of breach of privacy claims the company made in connection to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Critics, politicians and privacy advocates have said that the $9.5 million amount is a paltry one for Facebook which added another former high-ranking political staffer to its public policy team this week.
“It’s very concerning that the massive data-opolies — and Facebook is a perfect example of this — embed themselves with the major political parties in jurisdictions where they are,” New Democrat innovation critic Charlie Angus told the Financial Post. “And then they seem to avoid legislation and scrutiny.”
The amount of the fine has also dismayed Ann Cavoukian, former information and privacy commissioner for Ontario, who said that Canadian regulators are well-intentioned but they failed on the follow up actions of their intentions.
“I would’ve said to the Competition Bureau, what’s the largest fine you could levy? $9 million is nothing to Facebook. Why not levy $1 billion?” Cavoukian said.
The settlement agreement is directly related to the Cambridge Analytical scandal, in which Facebook allowed third-party developers to access private user data. Even years after the company claimed it had halted the practice of giving developers access to this data, Facebook had in fact continued to fd o so, the Bureau found.
“Facebook did not limit the sharing of users’ personal information with some third-party developers in a way that was consistent with the company’s privacy claims,” the Bureau said in a news release. “This personal information included content users posted on Facebook, messages users exchanged on Messenger, and other information about identifiable users.”
It was found that Cambridge Analytica had gained access to private data of millions of Facebook users using a research application. The data was then utilised by the company to create psychological profiles of users as a part of its strategy of targeted campaigning for the 2016 US presidential election as well as for the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum.
The company is not admitting that it did anything wrong as part of the settlement agreement, a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“Although we do not agree with the Commissioner’s conclusions, we are resolving this matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for the purposes of this agreement,” the spokesperson said. “We look forward to continuing our productive relationship with the Commissioner and the Competition Bureau. We will build on the improvements we’ve made in protecting people’s information and how we communicate about the privacy controls Canadians can use.”
Charges of privacy violations to American citizens relating to the Cambridge Analytica affair had been settle by Facebook with the US Federal Trade Commission for US$5 billion in July last year. The social media company had also agreed to implement ongoing changes to the corporate structure of the company aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future.
“It’s a joke,” Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner said of the Canadian settlement. “I worry about this incenting more breaches of privacy, because when you think about the value of the data that was in question in this transaction, it’s a helluva lot more than $9 million.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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