Canada approves Facebook changes

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The Canadian privacy commissioner is happy with changes made by Facebook, following an investigation of the site's policies last year.

Jennifer Stoddart said the social network had "vastly improved" the sharing of personal information with third-party developers.

She believes that Facebook now provides users "with clear information" about privacy policies.

In May the social network made wide-ranging changes to its site.

These changes came about partly as a result of pressure from privacy commissioners and campaigners around the world.

Long road

One of the major concerns of the Canadian commissioner was the way Facebook gave third-party developers "virtually unrestricted access" to Facebook users' personal information.

The new model means developers must inform users of the data they need and seek consent to use it.

"We're also pleased that Facebook has developed simplified privacy settings and has implemented a tool that allows users to apply a privacy setting to each photo or comment they post," said Ms Stoddart.

But it is by no means the end of the matter, she added.

"It has been a long road in arriving at this point. These changes are the result of extensive and often intense discussions with Facebook," she said.

"Facebook is constantly evolving and we are actively following the changes there. We will take action if we feel there are potential new violations," she added.

Michael Richter, Chief Privacy Counsel at Facebook responded to the conclusions:

"Making the privacy controls on Facebook comprehensive and easy to understand is an important part of our commitment to giving every person the power to control their own Facebook experience, and will continue to be even though this investigation by the OPC [Office of the Privacy Commissioner] has been concluded."

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, has said publicly that he thinks that life on the web should be social "by default".

Ms Stoddard does not share this ambition.

"We have cautioned Facebook against expanding the categories of user information made available to everyone on the internet," she said.

She has also recommended that Facebook makes its default settings for photo albums more restrictive. Currently it recommends that users make albums available to everyone.

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