Canada: An Era of Conscious Data Use – And Facebook's Lack Thereof

Last Updated: May 15 2019
Article by Stas Bodrov

After implementing stricter privacy laws in 2018, Canada has joined a number of countries with a shifting mentality regarding privacy rights. Individuals are becoming more aware of the information they are disclosing. Users of applications and services are becoming more cognizant of what data they are providing to organizations and more curious about how that information is being used. For the first time, people are paying close attention to what businesses are using their information for and expect that businesses will be transparent in their privacy policies.

Last week, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released a report after conducting a lengthy investigation into Facebook. In sum, the report found that Facebook contravened Canadian privacy laws and failed to take responsibility for protecting the personal information of Canadians. The release noted that Facebook's privacy framework was "empty" and their "vague terms were so elastic that they were not meaningful for privacy protection". Part of the investigation revealed that an app called "This is Your Digital Life", which was used by around 300,000 Facebook users around the world, potentially disclosed the personal information of approximately 87 million users, 600,000 of which were Canadian. The report revealed that Federal and British Columbia privacy laws were violated including unauthorized access (which included superficial and ineffective safeguards), lack of meaningful consent, no proper oversight over privacy practices, and an overall lack of responsibility for personal information.

More shocking than the findings was Facebook's response to the reports and the recommendations contained therein. Facebook denied that they contravened privacy legislation and rejected the findings and recommendations. This response fueled the claim that Facebook lacks responsibility, especially considering that a 2009 Investigative Report, which largely revealed similar issues, proposed mechanisms to mitigate risk of unauthorized access and use of Canadians' personal information – recommendations that were seemingly ignored by the organization. Interestingly, a March 2019 Edison Research Infinite Dial Report revealed that Facebook lost around 15 million active users since 2017 (6% of its active users).1 This may be in part as a result of the negative publicity the company has been receiving due to its handling of users' personal information (the Cambridge Analytica Scandal for example).

One issue that Facebook's reception of the report revealed was that the amendments in PIPEDA appear to lacks teeth. For instance, PIPEDA does not make a Privacy Commissioner's recommendations mandatory, nor does the legislation grant a Commissioner the power to issue an order. This, however, does not stop the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada from bringing an application to the Federal Court to compel Facebook to correct its privacy practices. This process, however, will likely be lengthy and it is currently unclear whether any Commissioner will take this step.

In light of the changing mentality, organizations that collect personal information, and who aim to be successful, must take a more conscious approach regarding the information that they collect. Even more so, organizations must be more transparent with their customers by explaining how and for what purpose an individual's information will be used. The privacy policies that everyone hates to read are required to be much more user friendly than they once were. If a company's privacy policy is too long and contains too much legalese, the organization risks a similar fate as Facebook – having those policies deemed so elastic that they are not meaningful. Organizations must consider what information they require to perform the services that they are undertaking to perform and provide the user a simple and easy to understand privacy policy that articulates in lay terms how the data will be used and for what purpose. The days of shifting the responsibility to the consumer regarding their data is over – organizations must take an active role to be more "data conscious" and protect the information that is provided to them.

Organizations should attempt to limit the amount of information that it collects from its users to the vital data that it needs to perform a service. Some key considerations regarding privacy policy are:

  • What information is needed for the organization to provide the service they are undertaking?
  • Who has access to that data?
  • How is that data handled (shared and used)?
  • How and how often is the data destroyed?

It is without doubt that the Privacy Commissioners throughout Canada will be lobbying to make PIPEDA more aggressive including providing executive power to the entities tasked with protecting the privacy rights of Canadians. Until that time comes, users will make their voices heard by giving their business to organizations that are more conscious about data use. In order to achieve greater success in this realm, organizations must be more transparent in their privacy policies and take a more conscious approach to data use than they have in the past.

To see the full report, please visit:



The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions