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PIAC Complaint Upheld: Privacy Commissioner Finds Social Network Must Respect Teen Privacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Attention: News and Business Editors
PIAC Complaint Upheld: Privacy Commissioner Finds Social Network Must Respect Teen Privacy
March 1, 2012

(OTTAWA)— The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada decision released today finding popular youth-oriented social networking site Nexopia.com Inc.’s privacy practices are in violation of Canadian privacy law comes in response to a complaint filed over two years ago by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).

PIAC, a consumer advocacy group based in Ottawa, applauded the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s decision concerning Nexopia.com Inc. (Nexopia) under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The Privacy Commissioner’s decision upheld all of PIAC’s concerns and issued 24 recommendations to Nexopia to improve the privacy of their teen social networking users.

“The Privacy Commissioner’s finding tells social networking sites with teen users that these services must create spaces for expression that are privacy-respecting and give real control to teens over their online privacy,” said John Lawford, co-counsel for PIAC on the complaint.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada agreed with PIAC, finding that Nexopia’s default privacy settings of sharing all user profile information with the whole internet as a default setting do not properly consider the reasonable expectations of its users under the age of 18.
The Privacy Commissioner also found that Nexopia violated Canadian privacy law with respect to its collection, use and disclosure of personal information collected at registration, sharing personal information with advertisers and other third parties and the retention of personal information of users and visitors. Nexopia has agreed to implement corrective measures in relation to 20 of the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations. Nexopia has agreed to change its default privacy settings to share profile information only with users’ “friends” on the site by June 30, 2012.

“This is a huge step forward for online youth privacy,” said Janet Lo, co-counsel for PIAC on the complaint. “We are pleased that Nexopia has stated it will change its system to respect Canadian privacy law moving forward. We are, however, disappointed that Nexopia has said it will not comply with the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations to change its data retention practices. Nexopia insists on archiving the personal information of its users indefinitely, even after a user deletes his or her account.”
PIAC is a non-profit organization that provides legal and research services on behalf of consumer interests, and, in particular, vulnerable consumer interests, concerning the provision of important public services.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s finding is found at: PIPEDA Report of Findings #2012-001

A redacted version of PIAC’s original complaint filed January 18, 2012 can be found at Nexopia_Complaint_FINAL2_redacted

For more information, please contact:
Janet Lo
Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×24
(613) 562-0007 (Fax)
jlo@piac.ca
John Lawford
Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×25
(613) 562- 0007 (Fax)
jlawford@piac.ca

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