Canadian government to investigate whether Facebook violated privacy act

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The Canadian government is launching an investigation to see if Facebook violated the Privacy Act with regards to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

The inquiry is in response to the allegations involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner announced it has opened an investigation into “unauthorized access and use of Facebook user profiles.”

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“We have received a complaint against Facebook in relation to allegations involving Cambridge Analytica and have therefore opened a formal investigation,” Commissioner Daniel Therrien said in a statement. “The first step will be to confirm with the company whether the personal information of Facebook users in Canada was affected.”

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The inquiry will look into Facebook’s compliance with Canada’s federal private sector privacy law.

The Office says it will remain in contact with its British counterpart, which is also investigating the matter.

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Elizabeth Denham, the head of Britain’s Information Commission, is seeking a warrant to search the offices of consultancy Cambridge Analytica after a whistleblower revealed it had harvested the private information of millions of people to support Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

“We are looking at whether or not Facebook secured and safeguarded personal information on the platform and whether when they found out about the loss of the data, they acted robustly and whether or not people were informed,” Denham told BBC Radio.

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Created in 2013, Cambridge Analytica markets itself as a source of consumer research, targeted advertising and other data-related services to both political and corporate clients.

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According to the New York Times, it was launched with $15 million in backing from billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer and a name chosen by the then-future Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon.

Facebook says the data was harvested by a British academic, Aleksandr Kogan, who created an app on the platform that was downloaded by 270,000 people, providing access not only to their own personal data but also their friends’.

Christopher Wylie, a 28-year-old originally from British Columbia, has told news outlets of how the inappropriately obtained private information of tens of millions of Facebook users helped political movements score 2016 victories in the U.S. election and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum.

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*With files from Reuters and The Canadian Press


© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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