The Edmonton Sun reports on a new study (pdf) from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada concerning privacy and six social networking sites: 1. Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) 2. Hi5 (http://hi5.com) 3. LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com) 4. LiveJournal (http://www.livejournal.com) 5. MySpace (http://www.myspace.com) 6. Skyrock (http://www.Skyrock.com).
The study found many of the sites have the same problems, ranging from not telling users enough about how their information is shared with advertisers and third parties to just how much of that information is shared.
Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the study shows that users should be aware of how some social network sites are handling their information and their privacy.
“They should have some concerns. When it comes to transparency, security, access by third parties, users should understand that the risks are there on other sites and we encourage the other sites to look at our materials and assess their compliance.” […]
Denham wouldn’t say if any sites appear to be violating Canada’s privacy law. Nor could she say what changes may have been made by the sites since the report was written.
Earlier this year, the Privacy Commissioner criticized some of Facebook’s policies, saying they violated the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”). The social networking site later agreed to implement the Privacy Commissioner’s suggestions in order to better protect the data of Facebook users. A few weeks ago, Facebook announced it would shut down its “Beacon” feature. There, Facebook gathered data on users’ transactions with third-party sites and broadcast users’ purchases to their friends in “social ads” that appeared on Facebook. The social networking site automatically broadcast these details, placing the burden upon users to opt-out of the Beacon program.
For more on social networking privacy, here’s a previous post on a point-counterpoint debate.