Archive for the ‘Identity Theft’ Category

3 Oct 2014

Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2014

October 1st marked the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.  It’s an opportunity to share tips and tools to help people stay more safe and secure online.

Throughout October, we’ll be highlighting the resources we have available to encourage Canadians to be more privacy- and cybersecurity-conscious.  On our blog, among other things, we’ll look at innovative cybersecurity research projects funded through our Contributions Program, we’ll let you know how young people are protecting their privacy online, and we’ll highlight what small-and medium-sized businesses can do when it comes to protecting personal data.

So, throughout the month, keep up with us on Twitter (@privacyprivee) and on our blog for more information on privacy and cybersecurity.   Also be sure to check out Public Safety Canada’s cybersecurity website.

29 Apr 2013

Grappling with the impact technology is having on privacy

This week is Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) – a global effort, coordinated by members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA), to raise awareness about the value of privacy and the importance of protecting it.

For PAW 2013, APPA created an infographic that illustrates how technology has changed the way we communicate, do business and store information, and how this has introduced new privacy risks as a result.

It is an issue that many are thinking about. According to OPC’s recent survey, Canadians are increasingly anxious about their privacy in the face of new technology, and 70 per cent of them feel they have less protection of their personal information than they did 10 years ago. The research also indicates that Canadians avoid downloading apps or using certain websites and services due to privacy concerns.

What can we do?

It is true that consumers expect protections when they use products and services, but it is important to also realize that consumers have an important role to play and need to take an active approach when it comes to protecting their personal information. The best thing anyone can do, when using technology to collect or store personal information, is to understand the privacy risks that come with that technology. And here are some resources to help with that task:

Mobile App: We use our mobile devices to store a goldmine of personal information. To learn more about how to protect the personal information on your mobile device, download the OPC’s free myPRIVACYapp.

Video: Privacy and Social Networks: Do you know what happens to your personal information once you post it on to social networking sites? Watch this video that OPC created to understand how social networking sites make money off of your personal information. It may cause you to ask yourself some tough questions the next time you update your information online.

Infographic: 10 tips for preventing identity theft: Anyone who has personal information is at risk of identity theft, and the risks are higher now that we use technology for so many purposes. And while it’s impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of becoming a victim, it is possible to reduce it. The OPC’s infographic details 10 things you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a target.

Introduction to Cloud Computing: When you store your photos online instead of on your home computer, or use webmail or a social networking site, you are using a “cloud computing” service. The OPC’s fact sheet explains the privacy implications of this.

For more information on the privacy risks that come with technology, and on how to protect yourself, visit the OPC’s page of fact sheets covering a range of issues and topics.

27 Mar 2013

On the subject of identity theft

As we close out Fraud Prevention Month, our Office is encouraging Canadians to learn more about how to prevent identity theft and fraud.

Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre statistics for 2012 indicate that although the number of complaints are lower than in previous years (41,496 in 2012 compared to 48,061 and 51,947 in 2011 and 2010 respectively), the financial damages incurred have actually increased by over $17 million in the same period.

At no age can individuals consider themselves safe from the risk of identity theft.  Although Canadians between the ages of 50-59 appear to be those most targeted by thieves, victims can range from newborn infants to the elderly – anyone who has personal information may have that information targeted and/or stolen.

What Can I Do?

There are some basic measures that individuals can take in order to better control over their personal information and help restrict the availability of their information to identity thieves:


Take care what documents you carry with you

Many of the identification documents we carry with us on a daily basis are useful not just for our purposes but for those of identity thieves.  Carrying foundational identity documents like your social insurance number (SIN) card increases the risk of fraud since such information, in connection with other personal information, can be sufficient to allow someone to open an account in your name.


Be actively aware of your own credit profile and history

Be aware of the billing cycles of your credit providers and stay alert for missing bills.  When bills come in, review them carefully.  And contact the Canadian credit bureaus – TransUnion and Equifax – to report suspected identity theft and obtain a free copy of your credit report to ensure it is accurate and doesn’t include debts you haven’t incurred.


Know why and to whom you are giving your personal information

Don’t be lulled into uncritical obedience when someone asks for sensitive information – ask for what purpose the information is collected, how it will be used and shared, what happens if you refuse. If you’re not satisfied, don’t hand it over.


Be thoughtful about how you use social networks

Don’t let your social networking profile be a goldmine for fraudsters.

Be discreet about what you post online. Think about what information you’re putting out there, and the implications of it. Lock down your privacy settings, and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life.  Regularly change your passwords and make sure that they’re sufficiently robust.  Think critically about what information you’re being asked to provide, and make your own active decisions about what information you share and why.


What If It Happens to Me?

If you suspect that your personal information has been hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence.

For more information, visit the OPC’s page on identity theft and fraud and check out our infographic featuring top tips for preventing identity theft.


26 Oct 2012

Privacy Pop – Our top ten films on privacy

Privacy and surveillance have always been compelling themes in pop culture, and Hollywood has certainly used the concepts to great effect. Below, in no particular order, is our own selection of the best films with a privacy theme.

Do you agree with our list, or do you think we’ve left something out? Let us know in the comments!

Louis 19, le roi des ondes (King of the Airways

The only comedy on our list, Louis 19 traces the path of Louis Jobin, a man initially thrilled to be chosen as the star of a reality TV show, only to discover that celebrity is not all it’s cracked up to be. Released in 1994, the movie predated the onslaught of reality TV shows, social networking sites and the concept of micro-celebrity.

A Scanner Darkly

Like a few of the other films on this list, A Scanner Darkly takes place in the not-too-distant-future, where surveillance is ubiquitous and constant. Based on the Philip K. Dick novel and directed by Richard Linklater, this film also considers notions of identity, and how the effects of surveillance on identity.

Caché (Hidden)

This Austrian-French thriller follows the lives of the Laurent family as they attempt to determine who has been secretly videotaping them. Released in 2005, the film has won numerous awards and earned global accolades from film critics.

The Conversation

Gene Hackman plays a plays a paranoid and brilliant surveillance expert in this 1974 film which may or not be the precursor to another movie which didn’t quite make our cut, Enemy of the State. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation has been praised for its “remarkably advanced arguments about technology’s role in society that still resonate today.”


Gattaca brings the themes of privacy and surveillance to the sub-atomic level. In this version of the not-too-distant-future, DNA plays a major role in determining future profession, potential mates and social class.

Minority Report

Before starting production, director Steven Spielberg assembled a group of futurists to get a handle on what the year 2054 might look like. That would explain the wealth of plausible technology showcased throughout the film, like this scene where Tom Cruise’s character is approached by pushy holographs with  personalized, targeted sales pitches.

The Lives of Others

Released in 2006. A Stasi agent takes an interest in a couple living in East Berlin and begins to monitor them – at first, with the intention of determining their loyalty to the Socialist Unity Party, but then increasingly for his own personal interest in their lives.


George Orwell’s modern classic was brought to the big screen for a second time in 1984. (The first film adaptation was made in 1956.) Like all good cultural memes, this one introduced several new words and phrases into our vocabulary, including Big Brother, thoughtcrime, and memoryhole.

Rear Window

Man breaks leg, gets bored, spies on neighbours – high jinx ensue. The high-tech surveillance techniques featured in many of the other films on this list are nowhere to be found in this classic Hitchcock mystery.

Red Road

This Scottish film follows a CCTV operator who actively monitors a man from her past. Director Andrea Arnold has said her depiction of Glasgow as a city under constant surveillance was meant to provoke a debate about the use of CCTV networks.


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.

27 Mar 2012

Privacy: Not just good business, but good for business

A recently released study has given further evidence to the link between privacy and personal information protection and consumer confidence.

The Edelman study  released in February 2012 shows that consumer concerns about data privacy and security are actively diminishing their trust in organizations.  For instance, 92% listed data security and privacy as important considerations for financial institutions, but only 69% actually trusted financial institutions to adequately protect their personal information.  An even sharper disconnect can be seen with online retailers, with 84% naming security of personal information as a priority but only 33% trusting online retailers to protect it.

It’s hardly surprising that consumers are nervous.  Stories about privacy and security flaws and breaches abound in the media these days.  From flaws in mobile applications, retroactive release of archives for marketing, service amalgamation and data breaches, users are constantly confronted with evidence that their personal information is at risk.  Lack of transparency on the part of organizations and consumer discomfort with cross-border data traffic, outsourcing and cloud storage only further exacerbate the issue.

This challenge to trust appears to correlate to an increased willingness on the part of consumers to invest in their privacy.  Where a 2009 study concluded that consumers were unwilling to pay extra for privacy, recent research from the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) finds that individuals weigh security and privacy considerations as heavily as those relating to a product’s design, style, and physical dimensions. All other things being equal, the study discovered that consumers were willing to pay a higher price in order to protect their privacy. 

Investing in privacy is not the only way that consumer concerns are indicated – the Edelman data also shows nearly 50% of participants either leaving or avoiding companies that have suffered a security breach.  Following a data breach suffered by an organization with whom they’re already involved, up to 70% of those surveyed expressed willingness to terminate a relationship or switch providers. 

Findings like this should be a wake-up call for organizations, an indicator that it is no longer enough to “manage” security and privacy concerns. Instead, privacy and security need to be prioritized and strengthened to the point where they can be made key parts of branding and corporate identity.   Consumer confidence is key, and reliant upon trust. And new evidence increasingly shows that privacy is not only good business – it’s good for business.

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

31 May 2010

2010 Consumer Privacy Consultations – Montreal is all a-twitter!

Over the course of the year, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is hosting consultations with Canadians on issues that pose a serious challenge to privacy. In an attempt to learn more about the privacy implications of new industries, the focus of the consultations has been on online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers, and the increasing prevalence of cloud computing.

Following the first such consultation in Toronto, a second event was held in Montreal on May 19th, 2010. The event was a resounding success, due in part to the fact that the panels had a lively audience both on and offline.

Did you miss the event? You can still watch the webcast here, and you can check out what was happening on Twitter for each panel below.

Panel 1: Frontiers of Consumer Information Datamining and Analytics

Frontiers of Consumer Information Datamining and Analytics Panel

Panel 2: Online Identity and Reputation

Online Identity and Reputation Panel

Panel 3: Online marketing methods: gaming, advertising, applications and social networks

Online marketing methods: gaming, advertising, applications and social networks panel

8 Mar 2010

We have our winners!

Once again, students from the Encounters with Canada program have selected the winners of our annual student video contest! Here are the winners for our 2009 competition:

The three top video artists in the live action category were:

1st place: Jeffery Burge, Vanessa Caicedo, Alexandra Georgaras, Gareth Imrie and Fiona Sauder of Canterbury High School in Ottawa, Ontario, with a video titled “Think Before You Click”. They win a $100 gift card and an iPod Touch.

2nd place: David Borish and Mory Kaba of Glebe Collegiate Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, with a video titled “Friend or Foe”. They win a $250 gift card.

3rd place: Jennifer Paul from Brampton, Ontario, with a video titled “Too Good to be True”. She wins a $150 gift card.

The three top video artists in the animation category were:

1st place: Tyler Ford and Matthew Kerr of Osgoode Township High School in Metcalfe, Ontario, with a video titled “Privacy: Think Before You Click”. They win a $100 gift card and an iPod Touch.

2nd place: Rebecca Kartzmart and Emily Patterson of Osgoode Township High School in Metcalfe, Ontario, with a video titled “Carol the Carrot”. They win a $250 gift card.

3rd place: Scott Piper of Osgoode Township High School in Metcalfe, Ontario, with a video titled “Privacy Matters”. He wins a $150 gift card.

The three top video artists in the French video category were:

1st place: Benjamin Dion-Weiss of l’École secondaire publique De La Salle in Ottawa, Ontario, with a video titled “Le réseautage social d’après le Comte Hackula”. He wins a $100 gift card and an iPod Touch.

2nd place: Stéphanie Lemieux and Emily Vendette of l’École secondaire catholique Embrun in Embrun, Ontario, with a video titled “Le Journal de Lisa”. They win a $250 gift card.

3rd place: Cosmo Darwin of l’École secondaire publique De La Salle in Ottawa, Ontario, with a video titled “Trouvée & Perdu”. He wins a $150 gift card.

The three top video artists in the Junior category were:

1st place: Mackenzie Giffen, Chris Johnstone, Chris Nattrass, Curtis Sookhoo and Gabriel Zingle of F.R. Haythorne Junior High in Sherwood Park, Alberta, with a video titled “The Spanish Lottery”. They win a $100 gift card and an iPod Touch.

2nd place: Trevor Aiello, Connor Bergersen, Chad Bullock and Lochlan Thomson of F.R. Haythorne Junior High in Sherwood Park, Alberta, with a video titled “A lesson In Privacy”. They win a $250 gift card.

3rd place: Matthew Craner, Scott Deshane, Madison Gilchrist, Joe Matishak and Graeme Wyatt of F.R. Haythorne Junior High in Sherwood Park, Alberta, with a video titled “The Phone Number Test”. They win a $150 gift card.

We also recognized seven teachers for their enthusiastic participation in the contest. They were:

  • Crystal Getschel, of F.R. Haythorne Junior High in Sherwood Park, Alberta, with 26 entries.
  • Majed Mattar, of Osgoode Township High School in Metcalfe, Ontario, with 21 entries.
  • Professor Kaduri, of Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, Ontario, with 15 entries.
  • Grant Holmes, of École secondaire publique De La Salle, Ottawa, Ontario, with 11 entries.
  • Carol Shaw, of Woodstock Collegiate Institute, Woodstock, Ontario, with 8 entries.
  • Kevin Shae, of Sir Robert Borden High School, Ottawa, Ontario with 6 entries.
  • Stephen Willcock, of Canterbury High School, Ottawa, Ontario, with 5 entries.

Each teacher will receive a $250 gift certificate at Indigo Books and Music to use for personal use or for the school they represent.

The videos will be posted as soon as possible to our youth site. They will also be available on our YouTube channel.

We were thrilled with the number and quality of submissions we received for our second competition. We’ll be launching the 2010 contest in May!

2 Mar 2010

Fraud Prevention Month

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Throughout the month of March, every day, the OPC will be highlighting a fraud prevention tip on Twitter. You can also learn more about identity theft here.