The real impact of the Competition Bureau’s $9 million Facebook fine

June 18, 2020

Although Canada and the U.S. punished Facebook for the same thing, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s hefty US$5 billion fine makes Canada’s C$9 million seem trivial.

In May, Canada’s Competition Bureau released a report that concluded Facebook users couldn’t ultimately control who had access to their personal information, despite being led to believe they could. 

However, privacy lawyer Molly Reynolds told the Canadian Bar Association’s magazine CBA National that even though the fine imposed by Canada is much smaller than that of the United States, the importance of the fine is beyond monetary.

“Although the sum might not seem like much, it’s more significant as a sign that the Bureau is taking a longer step into this area,” Molly said.

She said while large fines are enough to spook shareholders, fines from various jurisdictions also go a long way to get their attention. 

“There’s a cumulative effect, especially coming after the privacy commissioner’s finding that Facebook violated privacy law,” she said.

“It has a reputational impact and an impact on shareholders, who will make their opinions known.”

Molly shares guidance on how organizations should manage privacy and data issues when implementing post-COVID-19 return-to-work plans in “A privacy, cybersecurity and data governance framework for return-to-business planning”.

You can read more of our practice and insights on our Privacy page.


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