Surveillance by Design

Ann Cavoukian – the Ontario Privacy Commissioner – has written an excellent op-ed in the Financial Post entitled Beware of ‘Surveillance by Design’

It starts off with:

I feel the need to raise a growing concern regarding the lack of understanding of a key privacy issue – the ease of data linkages in an ever-increasing online world.

In this day and age of 24/7 online expanded connectivity and immediate access to digitized information, new analytic tools and algorithms now make it possible, not only to link a number with a name, but also to combine information from multiple sources, ultimately creating an accurate profile of a personally identifiable individual.

The Commissioner weighs in on the controversial Alberta Leon’s case that decided license plates are not personal information – which differs from other provinces.

She also expresses her concerns about the pending federal “lawful access” laws, saying that:

In my view, this represents a looming system of “surveillance by design,” that should concern us all in a free and democratic society.


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