Did Facebook pressure Canadian officials on privacy rules?

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Following media reports appearing in the UK media about Facebook pressuring a former federal infrastructure minister into making privacy commitments before okaying a Facebook data centre in Canada has prompted NDP MP Charlie Angus to call for an investigation.

In a letter to the federal lobbying commissioner Nancy Belanger, Angus said it was incumbent on the government to look into these reports. The reports name former Conservative minister Christian Paradis who reportedly assured Facebook Canada the government would not seek jurisdiction over non-Canada data if a data centre was constructed in Canada.

The Canadian Press has not viewed the documents or been able to independently verify the contents and messages to Paradis, who has since taken a senior position at security firm GardaWorld, have gone unanswered.

“This to me is so very troubling. They have so much power that they can simply call a minister’s office and be exempt from a law. That is not how the system should work,” wrote Charlie Angus who went on to say that he had not seen a copy of the letter Paradis allegedly sent but is searching for it.

Facebook Canada sidestepped most of the questions The Canadian Press sent to the company and did not confirm if it exerted pressure on Paradis but said in email that “Before we commit to opening a data centre anywhere in the world, we want to make sure we fully understand the country’s laws and privacy protections. This is not a threat to withhold investment, but part of our duty to protect people’s data.”

No data centre was ever built in Canada, but in a statement the company reiterated that it was “continually assessing” potential sites and its meetings with government stakeholders “as of late” have focused on election integrity. -CINEWS

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