Archive for the ‘Child protection online’ Category

30 Apr 2012

Privacy Awareness Week 2012: Privacy Resources for Young People

Young people today are sophisticated users of the Internet, using this medium with ease and enthusiasm. It is important that they understand the impact that these technologies can have on their privacy, and that they have the tools and information they need to make smart decisions.

That’s why the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) forum, which includes the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has made Privacy Resources for Young People the theme of Privacy Awareness Week 2012, April 29 – May 5.

Since 2008 our Office has been developing a variety of tools designed to teach young people about the relevance and importance of privacy when using modern technologies. The OPC has a Privacy Awareness Week 2012 web page with links to all of our privacy resources for youth, parents and educators, as well as links to privacy resources for youth developed by members of the APPA forum, at:

If you would like more information on youth privacy, or to stay informed regarding our tips and tools for parents, educators and youth, visit the Office’s youth website at:

You can also visit for links to a wide variety of international privacy guidance including tips, animations, brochures, discussion topics and interactive website materials.

We also encourage you to follow us on twitter: @privacyprivee, Privacy Awareness Week: #2012PAW.

18 Apr 2012

OPC Hosts First Pathways to Privacy Research Symposium

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) will be hosting its first annual Pathways to Privacy Research Symposium on May 2, 2012, in Ottawa!

The theme for this year’s event is Privacy for Everyone, and we will be discussing the results of research on emerging privacy issues among communities of interest. This year’s event was organized with the assistance of Industry Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Discussions will explore topics such as the changing landscape for youth, reaching diverse populations, cultural perspectives on privacy and frontiers of identification and surveillance among different populations.

This Symposium is a great opportunity to discover privacy-related research funded by the OPC’s Contributions Program and other funders, and will serve as a forum to bring together the people who do the research and those who apply it. Ultimately, we want to enable more people to use and benefit from the excellent privacy research that is being done across Canada. This event is also sure to be a great opportunity to share knowledge, grow partnerships and expand networking among researchers.

A detailed program for the event is available on our web site. If you are interested in participating, please contact Melissa Goncalves at or 613-947-7097. Please note that limited audience seating will be available.

5 Oct 2011


It’s World Teacher Day – the day that we celebrate those who spend their days nurturing minds and hearts in the communities that we share.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada thanks you for your long days, your hard work, but most of all, your enthusiasm.

To support your efforts, we’ve developed free educational resources to help you address the important issue of privacy with your students. These resources include:

  • a presentation for students in grades 9 to 12* about online privacy and ways they can protect their online reputations;
  • a video contest for your school to host, where 12- to 18-year-old students create short videos telling us what they think about privacy; and
  • lesson plans developed by the Media Awareness Network (MNet), which will enable you to engage students in thinking about and discussing privacy issues.

For more information, visit our youth website at

*Presentations for grades 7 and 8 and grades 4 to 6 will be available at the same link later this year.

26 Sep 2011

Privacy: Let’s see what they think!

We’re launching our fourth annual My Privacy & Me Video Contest, where students aged 12 to 18 show us what they have to say about privacy.

To participate, we’re asking them to create their own video public service announcements about privacy issues related to any one of these four categories:

  • mobile devices;
  • social networking;
  • online gaming; or
  • cybersecurity.

All contest details can be found here.

Entries must be submitted by teams of one or two people. Schools may submit up to 10 different videos. (If a school has more than 10 videos to submit, we suggest a contest be held within the school to select the 10 best submissions for this contest).

First-place winners in each category will receive a $350 gift card, second-place winners will receive a $200 gift card, and third-place winners will win a $100 gift card. The deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 at noon ET.

For inspiration, we encourage teams to watch the 2010 winning videos. Then, power up their video cameras, and show us what they have to say!

9 Sep 2011

OPC Unveils New Youth Privacy Tool

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is launching a new youth privacy tool that will help teachers and community leaders talk with younger Canadians about their privacy online.

The tool launched today is called Protecting Your Online Rep and comes right in time for back-to-school. It offers people who work with youth all the information necessary to provide an engaging and effective presentation in their own school or community.

The package includes a PowerPoint presentation with detailed speaking notes for each slide, along with class discussion topics, for Grades 9 to 12 (Secondary III to V in Quebec). Educators and others interested in delivering the presentation can find the package here.

The goal of the new tool is to teach young people that technology can affect their privacy, and to show them how to build a secure online identity and keep their personal information safe.

Link to news release

8 Aug 2011

Insights on Privacy – Youth Privacy

Do youth care about privacy? We will explore this question on September 8, 2011, when our Office holds its next Insights on Privacy armchair discussion.  We have invited two experts on young people’s use of social media, Kate Raynes-Goldie (@oceanpark) and Matthew Johnson (@MFJ72) to talk about what privacy means to youth and how we can help youth preserve their privacy by promoting digital literacy skills.

Kate Raynes-Goldie is completing her PhD in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University of Technology. Her current research explores Facebook privacy issues by combining a study of the ideologies that drive the site’s privacy architecture with a nuanced look at user understandings and practices. Kate is also a Research Associate at Ryerson University’s EDGE Lab, where she is researching privacy, autonomy and social media for children.  She is the founder of PrivacyCampTO, Canada’s first privacy unconference. 

As Director of Education with Media Awareness Network, Matthew Johnson creates resources for educators, parents and community groups. He is the designer of MNet’s comprehensive digital literacy tutorials Passport to the Internet (Grades 4-8) and MyWorld (Grades 9-12). Matthew also writes the Talk Media blog, one of the most popular sections of the MNet Web site.  He has given presentations and interviews to parents, school, community and industry groups on topics such as the effect of media violence on children, video game addiction, alcohol advertising, children’s use of new media and the moral dimensions of computer games.

This event is the fifth in a series hosted by the OPC to shed light on experts doing new and thought-provoking work in the field of privacy.

To participate:

We are inviting full participation in this discussion. For those of you who attend the session in person, we will be asking for questions from the audience as well as inviting you to tweet the content using the #privtalks hashtag.

If you are unable to attend the session in person, and would like the speakers to address a particular aspect of this topic, please send your question to by September 2nd and we will try to incorporate it in the issues we cover.

The video of this event will be made available after the presentation, as we’ve done for previous Speakers Series events.

Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP before September 6th, 2011. Simultaneous interpretation for both official languages will be available.

When: 2:00-4:00 p.m. Thursday, September 8, 2011
Where: Minto Suites Hotel, 185 Lyon Street North, 2nd Floor, Salon Vanier/Stanley


20 Jul 2011

Young Canadians in a Wired World – Phase III is Here!

The Media Awareness Network, benefactor of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s Contributions Program, has launched the third Phase (Phase III) of its ongoing study, Young Canadians in a Wired World (YCWW). This third phase is a crucial element to the project, as it will shed a more distinct light on the need for online education resources in classrooms and communities.

The study is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging study of youth internet use in Canada. The project tracks and investigates the behaviours, attitudes, and opinions of Canadian children and youth with respect to their use of the Internet. There have been two previous phases over seven years. The first comprised of telephone interviews with parents, focus groups with parents and children and quantitative research findings from a national school-based survey of 5,682 students in grades 4 – 11. The second stage includes qualitative research findings from focus groups with parents and young people aged 11 – 17, and quantitative research findings from a national school-based survey of 5,272 students from grades 4 – 11. You can find more information on these first two phases here.

MNet’s research has gathered a wealth of information about the online activities of Canadian youth, and has raised a number of privacy issues that require society’s attention. Perhaps most importantly, the research has highlighted the importance of education as a key response in helping young people make smart and informed online decisions, as well as stay safe online.

The third phase in MNet’s research will help inform public policy and support the development of relevant digital literacy resources for Canadian homes, schools, and communities. MNet has already begun implementing the new research through various interviews and focus groups. Phase III of the research project is scheduled to be completed in 2012, finishing with a nation-wide field study of a representative sample of Canadian students and teachers.

Stay tuned for more updates about this exciting endeavour.

For more information, please contact Francois Cadieux at

6 Apr 2011

Privacy and network education

Last month, our Office was invited to participate in a youth privacy conference hosted by the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has been focused on the issue of libraries and privacy awareness for the last three years, thanks to a grant from the Open Society Institute.  They plan to focus their efforts in 2011 on developing strategies for how best to deliver the privacy message to young people and see libraries as ideal places for youth to learn about privacy. They brought together privacy advocates, policy experts, librarians, educators, and our Office to pick our brains on how to best achieve this.

Their keynote speaker was Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing, who gave a very engaging talk via Skype where he advocated for network education – an approach we’ve discussed in this blog before.

He argues for the development of critical thinking skills, and defines the goal of youth privacy initiatives as  “A future where ‘why do you need to know this?’ is the default position when someone asks our kids to disclose information.”

He gave a similar talk at TEDx Observer recently on privacy and kids – worth watching:

9 Nov 2010

Thoughts on digital citizenship models

Some of our public education efforts at the OPC focus on talking to young people about online privacy. How they face the challenges of controlling their information online and protecting their privacy is an important skill to surviving – and thriving- in a digital environment. Increasingly, we see it as part of a suite of skills necessary for digital citizenship.

Through our presentations to young people, their teachers and parents, we’ve gained some wonderful insight into how kids use these tools to not only connect and share with other people, but also restrict access to their information and manage their identities online. We’re also learning a lot about what they already know, what they’d like to know, and what they don’t care to know when it comes to online privacy. These firsthand observations, paired with a growing body of work done by researchers like Valerie Steeves, danah boyd, Sara Grimes, the Pew Research Center and others, are helping us shape our public education and outreach efforts for young people.

Recently at the annual International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, danah boyd gave a talk entitled “The Future of Privacy: How Social Norms Can Inform Regulation”.  The entire talk is worth reading for her observations on how young Americans navigate the public/private divide in ingenious ways.  But among the things that struck me most, was this:

Participation in a networked era means that people are exposed in entirely new ways.  Interactions are increasingly public-by-default, private-through-effort.  People will make an effort to keep personal and intimate information private so as to not be embarrassed or vulnerable in front of people that they care about.  But we are not yet at a point where people have any model for thinking through what an algorithmic society looks like.  People don’t know how data about them and their interactions with others is being used to build data portraits.  They don’t know how algorithms are judging them.

How is our data collected? How are algorithms swallowing up this information and spitting out fairly accurate profiles of ourselves? These are some of the questions we need to be able to answer in order to fully navigate that public/private divide.

Often, “digital literacy” skill sets focus on the soft skills required to navigate in a digital world. But in doing so, perhaps we’re neglecting something quite fundamental to digital literacy – knowledge of the language(s) of computers themselves.

As Douglas Rushkoff recently wrote:

When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them….

At the very least we must come to recognize the biases – the tendencies- of the technologies we are using, and encourage our young people to do the same.

Basic programming  could be the piece of the puzzle that young people need to fully understand how the digital world works, and how they can change it.

1 Nov 2010

Do your kids know how to protect their online privacy?

With new technologies emerging all the time, it can be hard to stay in the loop in terms of privacy. Many applications and websites have privacy settings, but using them might not always be straightforward or obvious (or even seem to matter), especially to youth. That’s why the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is proud to be a sponsor of the Youth Privacy Online Conference in Toronto, held on Wednesday, December 1st.

Social networking websites, as well as a variety of interactive applications on the internet, are a facet of daily life for today’s youth. Along with these new technologies comes the risk that many people using and interacting with the platforms do not understand how to ensure the safety of their personal information, or even of their person. This can result in such things such as identity theft, luring, and loss of employment, among a range of other consequences.  

The conference will feature speakers from Canada, the US, and the UK. It will be a forum for discussion, debate and inquiry that will focus on different approaches to protecting children’s privacy online. With the amount of time they spend on the web, youth privacy is a very prevalent subject in the media. This conference will be useful for people working with youth and give them a general idea of how to protect their privacy.

Click here for more information.