The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Facebook prevents scraping of profiles 

Apparently Facebook has banned Robert Scoble and suspended his account after Facebook determined he was violating the terms of service by using an automated script to "move his social graph" (Facebook disabled my account « Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger). What he was apparently doing was using a script or some other automated tool to "export" information related to his 5000 friends to import the data into Plaxo (What I was using to hit Facebook — unreleased Plaxo Pulse « Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger). Facebook lets you import data from Gmail and other services, but it's a one way street.

His account has been restored, but I hope this spurs some debate over the portability of one's own data, particularly if that includes data about others.

In my view, I think that Facebook is right to prevent this sort of scraping. Facebook is different from your usual address book. There's much more information being shared on social networking sites. Perhaps imprudently, many users add as friends people they really don't know and (un)wittingly expose sensitive information. A facebook profile not only lists that individual in question, but his or her friends.

All of this means that information from a Facebook is more prone to be abused in a manner that the individual may not anticipate. If I add Scoble (or you) as a friend on Facebook, I think I have a good sense of what may happen to that information on Facebook. But I have no clue about what can happen when that information is taken off a trusted platform into some other, unknown, system. It's a bit chilling and Facebook is correct to take the position it has.

There's some additional coverage here: The Scoble scuffle: Facebook, Plaxo at odds over data portability The Social - CNET, but you should also read the comments on Scoble's own posts as they represent an interesting slice of opinion.

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1/03/2008 09:12:00 PM  :: (1 comments)  ::  Backlinks
Hi, you might want to check out our new video, “Public is the New Private,” about how social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace have become forums for young people to post their personal business for everyone to see.
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