Canada investigates Facebook again over privacy

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s privacy czar, who got Facebook to agree last year to better protect users’ personal information, will launch a new investigation over complaints that the changes sometimes make things worse.

The office of Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said on Wednesday the investigation would focus on a tool introduced by the social networking website last month that requires users to review their privacy settings.

It will look at a complaint from one person, echoed by others who contacted the privacy commissioner, that new default settings would make his information more readily available than the settings he had previously put in place.

“Some Facebook users are disappointed by certain changes being made to the site -- changes that were supposed to strengthen their privacy and the protection of their personal information,” stated Elizabeth Denham, the assistant privacy commissioner who spearheaded last year’s investigation.

Facebook said it was confident the changes it introduced were transparent and within the law, adding its education campaign around the changes was unprecedented in its scope.

“Any recommended changes to a user’s privacy settings were clearly shown to the user repeatedly and were not implemented until the user accepted these changes,” Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said.

“In addition, users were required to review the final settings after any changes and pointed to where they could reverse or further customize their settings.”

Stoddart’s office said the changes have sparked criticism from users who feel personal information is sometimes “even more exposed now than before.”

Facebook claims 350 million users globally and the changes were made worldwide. The company agreed last August to resolve all of the concerns raised in the first Canadian investigation within a year.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson