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Privacy Officials' Reactions Split Over Facebook Changes

SOCIAL NETWORKING

May 27, 2010

Canada's federal and provincial privacy commissioners are offering different opinions based on their first reviews of Facebook's announcement of its new privacy settings. Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham cautioned that the social networking site is still not compliant with federal privacy laws, noting the new settings still require public disclosure of user names, profile information, pictures, gender and networks, The Globe and Mail reports. "They have dialed it back a bit...but we don't think they have gone far enough," Denham said. Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian had a more positive reaction, saying she is "very pleased with the response," but adding that her office will be reviewing the changes in the weeks ahead because "the devil is in the details, or in this case, the devil is in the default." Meanwhile, Gartner analyst Ray Valdes suggests Facebook's move could affect the privacy policies of other technology companies, saying, "Facebook is a very large canary in the coal mine...Competitors are watching to see how much Facebook can get away with and what are the limits that are considered acceptable by government and users." Facebook Vice President Christopher Cox has said the company will be consulting with Canada's federal privacy commissioner on the office's specific concerns.
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