Canada briefs – August 28

The federal privacy commissioner has agreed to give Facebook one year to make the “complex” technical changes required to protect user privacy on its popular social networking site.

Facebook agrees to privacy changes, has one year to implement them

OTTAWA — The federal privacy commissioner has agreed to give Facebook one year to make the “complex” technical changes required to protect user privacy on its popular social networking site.

But a significant part of the deal hammered out between the office of commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and Facebook Inc. is less a technical challenge than a behavioural one.

“All of these users will have a far clearer picture of how their personal information is being shared once Facebook implements our recommendations,” Stoddart said.

“They will also have far more control over what they are sharing and with whom.”

While the changes are being enforced under Canada’s privacy law, Stoddart noted “Facebook has said to us this is a global change,” to its operations.

That means the Canadian ruling will improve the privacy of some 200 million-plus Facebook users.

Stranded man may come home

A young, autistic Canadian man who has been stranded in Kenya for three years may soon be headed home.

But Passport Canada has told the man’s mother that inconsistencies remain about the identity of Abdihakim Mohammed.

It means Mohammed will only be issued an emergency travel document rather than a true passport.

Lawyer Jean Lash, who is representing Mohammed’s mother Anab Issa, says the case has been frustrating, especially since friends and family of Mohammed have given Passport Canada no less than six affidavits attesting to his identity.

“They say that there are still discrepancies, but they won’t tell me or can’t tell me what these discrepancies are,” said Lash.

It could also be a month or more before Mohammed returns to Canada, because his low-income mother insists on going to Kenya to retrieve him and is raising the money needed for the flights on her own.

Mohammed, an autistic 25-year-old Somali-Canadian, was taken to Somalia five years ago by his mother when doctors recommended he be near extended family.

But when Issa tried to bring him back to Canada through Kenya three years ago, she was told her son didn’t look like his passport photo.

Mohammed’s is just one of numerous cases coming to light recently of Canadians left stranded in other countries or unable to obtain passports for travel abroad because of questions surrounding their identities.

A Commons committee heard tearful pleas Wednesday from a Canadian woman who was also stranded for months in Kenya, accused of being an impostor.

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