The 35-page document from CIPPIC, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, based at the University of Ottawa, alleges numerous privacy failures. They believe Facebook violates the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA).
"Social networking online is a growing phenomenon," said CIPPIC's director Philippa Lawson. "It is proving to be a tremendous tool for community building and social change, but at the same time, a minefield of privacy invasion."
Lisa Feinberg, a law student at the University, who is behind the complaint, said: "We're concerned that Facebook is deceiving its users. Facebook promotes itself as a social utility, but it's also involved in commercial activities like targeted advertising."
CIPPIC's complaint argues that Facebook fails to inform members how their information is disclosed to third parties for advertising and other profit-making purposes. It also argues that the site has failed to obtain permission from members for such uses of their personal information.
Lawson said CIPPIC chose to concentrate on Facebook because it is the largest social networking site in Canada, but that later it would probably turn its attention to MySpace. Canada contains Facebook's third largest user base after the US and the UK.
Canada's Privacy Commissioner will now hear the complaint, and could take up to one year to report her findings. Stoddart often prefers negotiation to resolve disputes, but can seek court injunctions if negotation fails.