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Facebook Accused of 22 Privacy Law Violations

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Public interest or self promotion?

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) has thrown itself into the spotlight over the weekend with a formal 35 page complaint against social networking phenomenon Facebook in which it alleges the site breaks 22 separate privacy laws.

"Social networking online is a growing phenomenon," CIPPIC director Phillipa Lawson told the BBC. "It is proving to be a tremendous tool for community-building and social change, but at the same time, a minefield of privacy invasion. We chose to focus on Facebook because it is the most popular social networking site in Canada {7m people Canadians are registered} and because it appeals to young teens who may not appreciate the risks involved in exposing their personal details online."

For its part Facebook has responded explaining "We pride ourselves on the industry leading controls we offer users over their private information. We believe that this is an important reason that nearly 40% of Canadians on the internet use our service. We've reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual errors, most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users."

Despite its protests, this isn't the first time Facebook has been in trouble over its approach to user privacy and even security. In August last year it leaked source code all over the web and followed that up in September by indexing user profiles in search engines making data more accessible than ever.

"They are all suspect," concluded Lawson. "Facebook is the most popular site in Canada and so that is why we looked at it particular but I am hoping to be able to do an analysis of MySpace later this year."

Education and reform people. It's inevitable…

In related news Microsoft has added a Facebook tab to Live Messenger which allows users to change their status, view photos and write on each others' wall. Handy.

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