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Canadian Competition Watchdog Slaps Facebook With $9 Million Fine Over Data-Privacy Investigation

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The Social Network Facebook has been periodically accused of poorly handling its user data on its numerous platforms, despite the company's privacy claims saying that it does not share personal information.

Canada’s Competition Bureau announced on Tuesday that it has fined Facebook Inc C$9 million ($6.5 million) following an investigation that found the social network company had made “misleading” claims about Canadian's personal information.

​The watchdog, whose purpose is to ensure that markets operate in a "competitive, innovative manner" said that it found Facebook’s privacy claims have been inconsistent with the way it shared users' personal data with certain third-party developers.

According to the news release, the content included "users posted on Facebook, messages users exchanged on Messenger, and other information about identifiable users".

Despite claims the company made not to permit "certain third-party developers to access the personal information of users’ friends after users installed certain third-party applications" in April 2015, such access continued until 2018.

The law enforcement body cited the 1985 'Competition Act', which forbids companies from making false or misleading claims regarding  "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. The Act applies to “free” digital products the same way it applies to regular products or services purchased by consumers", the release explained.

According to the Bureau, Facebook cooperated in resolving the matter but the company has said they do not agree with the ruling.

“Although we do not agree with the Commissioner’s conclusions, we are resolving this matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for the purposes of this agreement”, a Facebook spokesperson said.

In 2019, Facebook agreed to a $5 billion fine to the US Federal Trade Commission after a data privacy probe. The world's largest and most used social network has frequently been criticized by lawmakers and regulatory bodies over its privacy practices and providing third parties with user data.

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