In the past day or so we’ve heard plenty about Facebook breaching Canada’s privacy laws:
Privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said the social network violates federal law by storing the personal information of its 250 million global users indefinitely, even after users deactivate their accounts, and that the privacy information contained on the site is often confusing or incomplete.
I won’t argue the point; it sounds completely accurate. However, I wonder if Facebook is being held to a higher standard merely because it is a popular high-profile target. If I had an account at Sears or The Bay and cancelled it, do I believe for a second that they have purged their files of all of my personal information? Is the privacy commissioner investigating those companies? What about banks?
Facebook only has whatever information I choose to give it. Sears, The Bay, or banks compel me to provide personal information, including financial data. I’m far more concerned about who controls that information which I was forced to give, than that which I ostensibly chose to give.
In this era of increased information sharing, the concept of privacy is much more fluid. I find it more important to be told specifically what information these companies hold, who they consider to be the owners of the information, what they plan to do with it, and how I can get them to remove it. And I am far more concerned about the information I am forced to give both commmercial and governmententities than that which I choose to give to a social network.
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