- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2019

Facebook was berated Thursday by Canada’s privacy watchdog for committing a “major breach of trust” with the millions of users who had their data exploited by disgraced British firm Cambridge Analytica.

An investigation initiated following revelations emerging last year about Cambridge Analytica harvesting the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent concluded that the social network’s conduct violated Canadian privacy laws, the watchdog said.

Daniel Therrien, the head of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, said that investigators found Facebook at fault for both mishandling user data and subsequently failing to take responsibility.

Canadian authorities presented Facebook with several recommendations prior to releasing its findings, but they were outright rejected or otherwise refused, Mr. Therrien said.

“The stark contradiction between Facebook’s public promises to mend its ways on privacy and its refusal to address the serious problems we’ve identified — or even acknowledge that it broke the law — is extremely concerning,” the privacy commissioner said.



“In our view, therefore, the risk is high that Canadians’ personal information will be disclosed to apps and used in ways the user may not know of or expect,” the commission’s report concluded.

Canada’s privacy regulator will seek a federal court order forcing Facebook to “correct” its practice, the report said. 

A spokesperson for Facebook said the company was “disappointed” by the watchdog’s report and disputed its claim that the Cambridge Analytica scandal had affected more than a half-million Canadians.

“After many months of good-faith cooperation and lengthy negotiations, we are disappointed that the OPC considers the issues raised in this report unresolved. There’s no evidence that Canadians’ data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, and we’ve made dramatic improvements to our platform to protect people’s personal information,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

“We understand our responsibility to protect people’s personal information, which is why we’ve proactively taken important steps towards tackling a number of issues raised in the report and worked with the OPC to offer additional concrete measures we can take to address their recommendations, which includes offering to enter into a compliance agreement.”

Cambridge Analytica amassed the data of roughly 87 million Facebook users without their permission through an app, “This is Your Digital Life,” including information pertaining to more than 600,000 Canadians, according to the commissioner’s office.

Regulators in the U.S. and abroad have previously announced similar investigations into the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Cambridge Analytica initiated bankruptcy proceedings weeks after reports involving the Facebook scandal first emerged in March 2018.

Facebook said earlier this week that it planned to spend upwards of $5 billion as part of the probe into the company’s privacy practices launched by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

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