Canada’s competition authority fines Facebook $9 million

Facebook has been ordered to pay a $9 million (nearly 6 million euros) penalty by Canada’s Competition Bureau, which alleges that the company made misleading privacy claims about the privacy of personal information on Facebook and Messenger.

The settlement, published yesterday, 21 May, is important in showing that competition authorities are more than willing to tackle privacy issues (as reported in PL&B International Report, December 2019 and April 2020). Facebook has agreed in the settlement not to make false or misleading representations about the disclosure of personal information. This includes representations about the extent to which users can control access to their personal information on Facebook and Messenger.

Canada’s Competition Act forbids companies from making false or misleading claims about a product or service to promote their business interests. This includes claims about the information they collect, why they collect it, and how they use it.

“Canadians expect and deserve truth from businesses in the digital economy, and claims about privacy are no exception. The Competition Bureau will not hesitate to crack down on any business that makes false or misleading claims to Canadians about how they use personal data, whether they are multinational corporations like Facebook or smaller companies,” Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition said.

The Bureau acknowledged that Facebook cooperated with its investigation.