Busy Privacy Week – Two Privacy Reports and a Supreme Court of Canada Appeal

This has been a busy week for privacy news.

Anne Cavoukian, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, released her annual report entitled “2011 Access & Privacy – Ever Vigilant”. Topics discussed in the report include privacy by design, biometrics, mobile devices, lawful access legislation, and open data. From the report:

The theme of my 2011 Annual Report — Ever Vigilant — was chosen in large part because this year Ontarians faced what I consider to be one of the most invasive threats to our privacy and freedom that I have encountered in 25 years of safeguarding citizens’ rights and championing openness and transparency in government.

That threat presented itself as lawful access legislation proposed by the federal government. The legislation was designed to provide police with much greater ability to access and track information about identifiable individuals via the communications technologies that we use every day, such as the Internet, smart phones, and other mobile devices, and at times, without a warrant or any judicial authorization. Telecommunications service providers would also be required to build and maintain intercept capabilities in their networks for use by police.

It my view, it is highly misleading to simply call such legislation “lawful access” or to champion it as a child protection measure. The broad powers proposed represent much more — they represent a looming system of “Surveillance by Design.”

The Alberta Privacy Commissioner, Jill Clayton, announced that she is applying to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal an Alberta Court of Appeal ruling that said parts of the Alberta privacy legislation violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, released her annual report on PIPEDA entitled “Privacy for Everyone”. Topics discussed in her report include children and youth privacy, biometrics, big data, online privacy, lawful access, and updating PIPEDA. From the report:

Young Canadians are the most open to adopting new communications technologies which can, in some cases, invade their privacy. This holds true, not surprisingly, for those aged 18 to 34, as confirmed by a national opinion survey carried out this year for the OPC. (See section 3.3)

But the true adoption age for digital media is much, much younger.

We know, for example, that thousands of apps targeted at babies and toddlers are now available to teach little ones the alphabet and to entertain them with nursery rhymes.

The evidence may still be mostly anecdotal, but one recent study found that a third of North American Gen-Y moms (those aged 18 to 27) have let their children use a laptop by age two.

By the time the kids are three, those laptops and tablets are connected to the Internet daily for about a quarter of U.S. kids, according to the Joan Ganz Center in New York. By age five, the proportion online has soared to half.

We are giving our children unprecedented access to the Internet, but what are we doing to teach them about how to protect their privacy in the online environment?

We often hear the claim that young people growing up in this digital era do not care about privacy. This is not true.

While concepts of privacy are evolving, and young people tend to think about privacy differently than their parents, study after study shows that young people do care about their privacy.

 

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