Spotlight on social media

Canada's privacy czar is putting social media under the public microscope.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart will spend the spring consulting with Canadians about their use of social media, online gaming and cloud computing tools, such as Google Docs.

The fact-finding sessions may influence changes to Canada's privacy legislation, said a spokeswoman for Stoddart's department.

“Although we feel that the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is working relatively well, what we learn may shape the input we make to the next parliamentary review [in 2011],” said the spokeswoman, Anne-Marie Hayden.

Beginning in late April, Stoddart plans to hold public consultations in Montreal and Toronto on online tracking, profiling and targeting. In June, she expects to set up shop in Calgary to hear public comments about the privacy implications of cloud computing. That event will examine regulatory, jurisdictional and ownership issues.

These public consultations follow two highly publicized investigations by Stoddart into practices by Facebook. Last summer, she published a report that expressed concerns about the social networking site's transparency and clarity, resulting in a change in the way Facebook handles subscribers' information. On Jan. 27, her office announced an investigation into a public complaint regarding Facebook's new 'negative option' privacy settings.

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