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May 12, 2023

Privacy Commissioner appeals Federal Court decision related to Facebook investigation

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is appealing a recent decision by the Federal Court which dismissed an application brought by the OPC in relation to its 2019 investigation of the social media site Facebook.

“The issues at the heart of this case are directly related to the fundamental privacy rights of Canadians and their ability to participate with trust in our digital society,” says Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Philippe Dufresne.

“For that reason, my Office is appealing the Federal Court’s decision as the matter raises important questions with respect to the interpretation and application of privacy law in Canada that will benefit from clarification by the Federal Court of Appeal.”

The 2019 investigation, conducted jointly by the OPC and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, found shortcomings in Facebook’s privacy practices.

The investigation followed a complaint that a UK consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, was able to access millions of Facebook users’ private data without their consent for use in psychographic modelling for political purposes.

Facebook disputed the investigation’s findings and did not agree to implement the OPC’s recommendations.

In February 2020, the OPC filed an application with the Federal Court seeking an order requiring Facebook to correct its privacy practices in accordance with Canada’s federal private sector privacy law. Facebook brought a separate application seeking judicial review of the OPC’s investigation and decision.

On April 13, 2023, the Federal Court dismissed both applications.

Given that this matter is before the Courts, no further information is available at this time.

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