Canada’s Privacy Watchdog Launches Investigation Into Facebook Over Data Leak

Canada's privacy watchdog has launched an investigation into Facebook after a series of media reports alleged that private online information belonging to millions of Americans was obtained by a company working on U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign.

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

The investigation will look at whether Facebook has complied with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada's federal private sector privacy law.

This past weekend, The New York Times newspaper reported that President Trump's 2016 campaign hired Cambridge Analytica, and that the company harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users to help conduct a digital campaign during the election. In a blog post, Facebook said that, while none of the information leakage was a result of a data breach, it did appear to involve the passing of personal information from Cambridge Analytica to a third party when that data was supposed to have been destroyed.

"Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted. We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made," said Facebook’s Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal.

Privacy Commissioner Therrien said in the statement that the United Kingdom's own privacy watchdog is carrying on a similar investigation and the two agencies would remain in touch. "We will remain in contact with the U.K. office and will work with other data protection authorities as appropriate. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadian Facebook users are protected," reads the statement.