Canada launches probe into Facebook after allegations of massive data breach

  • Our goal is to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadian Facebook users are protected: Privacy Commissioner
World

OTTAWA – Canada’s privacy watchdog has started a probe into Facebook after the surfacing of allegations that private information belonging to a staggering 50 million Americans was fetched by a company campaigning for Donald Trump, before the 2016 presidential elections.

‘We have received a complaint against Facebook in relation to allegations involving Cambridge Analytica and have therefore opened a formal investigation,’ Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien confirmed in a statement.

He explained that the U.K.’s own privacy watchdog was conducting a similar investigation and the two agencies would remain in touch.

“We will remain in contact with the U.K. office and will work with other data protection authorities as appropriate. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadian Facebook users are protected,” he said.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien

The official continued that the first step would be to confirm with the company whether the personal information of Facebook users in Canada was affected or not.

Therrien launched his investigation a day after New Democratic Party (NDP) MPs Charlie Angus, Matthew Dubé and Brian Masse forwarded a letter to him to look into whether the private data of Canadians using social media was safe.

The investigation, that can open a new Pandora box,  will look at whether Facebook has complied with Canada’s federal private sector privacy law named ‘Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)’.

Facebook blocks whistleblower linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign

Earlier this week, leading publications including The New York Times reported that Trump’s 2016 campaign hired Cambridge Analytica which harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users to devise digital media strategy for the then tycoon, aspiring for Oval office.

Responding to the hair-rising reports, Facebook said that, while none of the information leakage was a result of a data breach, it did appear to involve the passing of personal information from Cambridge Analytica to a third party.

“Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted. We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made,” said the social media company’s vice-president and deputy general counsel Paul Grewal.

Meanwhile, the social networking giant has blocked the account of Data analyst and whistle blower Christopher Wylie after his revelations about the data breach.

Wylie is the co-founder of the political data analytics, which worked on Facebook ads for Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

The firm was initially funded by conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and led by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

EU To Investigate Data Leak

Besides Canada and UK, the head of the European Union’s parliament has said that the bloc will investigate Facebook over the use of its data by a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm.

Antonio Tajani in a series of Tweets elaborated that the date leak would be investigated, inviting the Facebook’s founder to the parliament for an explanation.