A University of Ottawa based public interest group is asking for the federal privacy commissioner’s help in its claim that Facebook Inc. is violating Canadian privacy laws.

In a written request to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) alleges dozens of violations by the social networking giant, including its failure to inform members of how their personal information is disclosed to third party advertisers. Facebook’s actions, CIPPIC said, might constitute a violation of the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

“Social networking online is growing phenomenon,” Philippa Lawson, director at CIPPIC, said in a release. “It is proving to be a tremendous tool for community-building and social change, but at the same time, a minefield of privacy invasion. We chose to focus on Facebook because it is the most popular social networking site in Canada and because it appeals to young teens who may not appreciate the risks involved in exposing their personal details online.”

The complaint was drafted with the help of University of Ottawa law students, who have analyzed Facebook as part of their winter studies. At the press time, Facebook has more than seven million Canadian members, making it the third largest user base in the world.

Under PIPEDA, the privacy commissioner has up to a year to investigate privacy complaints.