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Facebook announces improved user privacy controls to comply with Canadian law

[JURIST] The popular social networking site Facebook [website] announced [press release] Thursday that it would give users more control over the private information they share through their profiles. The changes were announced after discussions with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada [official website], who in July released a report [text, PDF] that was critical of Facebook's compliance with Canadian privacy laws. The Privacy Commissioner's Office applauded the changes [press release], with Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart [official profile] saying that Facebook users, "will have a far clearer picture of how their personal information is being shared." Changes to the site will center on the accessibility of personal information by third party developers, providing users with the option of simply deactivating or completely deleting their accounts and stored information, and a commitment by Facebook to provide clearer details on what happens to a user's profile once they are deceased. Facebook has indicated it believes it will take one year to implement the proposed changes.

The news that Facebook would increase users' privacy controls comes as earlier this month, five Facebook users filed suit [JURIST report] in a US federal court alleging that the site violates California privacy laws. In late July, Facebook announced it had corrected a loophole [CNET report] whereby users could see strangers' posted photos without those individuals' knowledge. In February, Facebook, facing a federal complaint [PC World report], reversed a change to its Terms of Use policy that gave Faceboook ownership of all information posted on a user's profile, even if the page were deleted.

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