Canada has become the first country in the world to rein in Facebook’s giant, information-sharing machine, with the federal privacy commissioner taking a poke at the global, social-networking site for being too loose with users’ personal data.

Facebook Inc., which has 250 million users worldwide including an estimated 12 million in this country, pledged yesterday to work with Canada to improve its privacy settings, especially with regard to third parties who put games and quizzes on Facebook.

“We’re going to continue the dialogue,” Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer for Facebook, said in a phone interview from Facebook’s headquarters in California. “We have every confidence that we’ll come to an acceptable conclusion.”

Kelly said that any improvements made to respond to federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart’s concerns will apply to Facebook operations worldwide.

Stoddart has been investigating Facebook’s policies and practices of sharing information after a complaint a year ago from University of Ottawa students.

Yesterday, she released a report that concludes the site contravenes Canadian privacy laws in four areas, and gave Facebook 30 days to tighten its procedures. If she is not satisfied with its progress, Stoddart can take the case to Federal Court to force compliance.

Michael Geist, an information-law expert and professor at the University of Ottawa, says the ruling puts Facebook at odds with Canada’s laws and is ground-breaking, internationally.

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