Competition Bureau enters into $9.5 million Settlement with Facebook over Alleged Privacy Misstatements
In January of this year, the deputy commissioner of Deceptive Marketing Practices Directorate at the Competition Bureau of Canada (the “Bureau”) confirmed that the Bureau may investigate false and misleading statements regarding privacy. This announcement clarified the position referenced in the Bureau’s Data Forum in August of 2019.
This clarification of the Bureau’s position raised the potential for significant penalties on organizations for making false or misleading statements around privacy, as court awards for damages under the privacy torts had, to date, been relatively small. On May 19, this all changed when Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) and the Commissioner of Competition (the “Commissioner”) filed a Consent Agreement in which Facebook would pay a $9 million administrative penalty and $500,000 in costs to settle the Commissioner’s investigation of Facebook and Messenger, which dated back to 2018. The settlement provided there was no admission of wrongdoing on Facebook’s part.
There are some important lessons for businesses here:
If you need assistance navigating any privacy or data use matter, contact a Lerners lawyer.
 “Honest Advertising in the Digital Age”, Remarks by Josephine Palumbo at the Canadian Institute 26th Annual Advertising and Marketing Law Conference, available online at https://www.canada.ca/en/competition-bureau/news/2020/01/honest-advertising-in-the-digital-age.html
 Competition Bureau, “Highlights from the Competition Bureau’s Data Forum”, online at https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04492.html#sec07
 Consent Agreement, available online at https://decisions.ct-tc.gc.ca/ct-tc/cdo/en/item/471812/index.do