On March 26, 2018, Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada (the Commissioner), announced that his office has launched a formal investigation into allegations of data sharing by Facebook in a scandal that has shaken the trust of many of Facebook’s users. In his op-ed, entitled “Facebook allegations underscore deficiencies in Canada’s privacy laws” the Commissioner called for comprehensive changes to federal private sector privacy laws, noting that Canada’s current privacy regime does not adequately protect Canadians from having their personal information used against them online.
The announcement comes in the wake of an article in the New York Times revealing that Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained information from approximately 50 million Facebook users in 2014.
Former Cambridge Analytica employee and data analytics expert, Chris Wylie, told The New York Times that Cambridge Analytica used the data to build psychological profiles enabling Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign to identify possible swing voters and craft messages more likely to resonate with them.
The Commissioner has called for legislative changes that would ensure that Canadians provide meaningful, informed consent for the collection and use of their personal information. The Commissioner is also seeking legislative changes to provide the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada with expanded inspection powers and the ability to make orders and issue fines to organizations found to be in violation of Canadian privacy law.
Summary By: Jennifer Davidson