For Data Privacy Day this past week, I received a number of notices from some large technology companies that used the opportunity to urge me to review my privacy settings — a good thing to do every once and while. And what better day than Data Privacy Day?
One such notice came from Facebook, which I guess is a good thing. But considering that company’s track record on privacy issues, their suggestion to review privacy settings seemed a little ironic. Facebook is, once again, in the news this week. First, they settled a massive class-action for $550 million in the United States. The lawsuit alleged that Facebook violated a very specific state law in Illinois because of the way the social media giant labeled photos.
Up here, the company was in the news for a different reason. Carleton University partnered with Facebook in what is being called the “Canadian Election Integrity Project.” We cover the story in more depth below, but let me share a bit from the National Observer: "The NDP's ethics critic says Carleton University's decision to name a Facebook Canada official as a 'visiting scholar in election integrity' is like 'inviting Dracula to oversee the security of the blood supply.'"
Well, if that isn’t a dramatic quote, I don’t know what is. Do you think the member of Parliament went a bit too far in focusing on a specific person to make a point? I think it’s an interesting decision Carleton has taken given some of Facebook’s transgressions. But at the same time, we should encourage companies like Facebook to recognize they play a role in our democracies and it is good corporate citizenship to spend some of your profits on making sure the election process is as fair as possible, not to mention sending out reminders to check your privacy settings. I’m not being naive. I imagine the students will learn about elections from a variety of different sources.
Before I let you go, let me just call out another story this week. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner launched a consultation on privacy and artificial intelligence. It’s a pretty quick turnaround if you do want to submit (deadline is March 13), but it’s a really important issue. As I posted on LinkedIn, this consultation reminds me of how much Ian Kerr is missed. All of Canada could really have used his expertise in this complex issue.
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