Archive for the ‘International Conference’ Category

24 Oct 2011

A gathering of privacy’s global village

Today’s flow of information knows no borders and so privacy issues are global.

This means that, as data protection authorities, we all need to learn from each other and share our experiences to fulfill our roles with greater effectiveness.

While our cultural contexts differ, we face many common challenges, which is why my international counterparts and I, along with other privacy professionals, will benefit from attending the 33rd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

The theme for this year’s Conference, to be held November 2 and 3 in Mexico City, is “Privacy: The Global Age.” I am looking forward to fascinating plenary discussions on technological advancements, on privacy and security, and on the drivers for data protection laws in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Our Office will be well represented during concurrent sessions, with Assistant Commissioner Chantal Bernier taking part in one session on enforcement powers and a second session on oversight of privacy at law enforcement agencies; Chief Technologist Bill Wilson chairing a panel on the growing role of technologists within DPAs; while I will be giving a presentation on what binds together the global community of data protection and privacy protection agencies despite the threats, risk and cultural differences. We are also attending pre-conference events earlier in the week, including the annual meeting of the Association francophone des autorités de protection des données.

I encourage all privacy professionals to visit to find out more about the International Conference and hope to see many of you there.

20 Nov 2009

Today is National Child Day

It’s also the 20th anniversary of the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Rights of the Child. A significant milestone, this made privacy a basic human right for everyone under the age of eighteen.

Privacy is a right that all young people should enjoy, no matter where they live. With today’s world being so different than it was 20 years ago, this is something they may not think much about. Today, young people are videotaped by security cameras almost everywhere they go. They are asked for their postal code or driver’s license number when they buy a pair of jeans. They can instant message, update their statuses, download music, talk to friends on Facebook and play games on their computers with people all around the world. Twenty years ago, if someone wanted to get in touch with you they had to phone you or send you a postcard!

It is so easy for young people to overlook their privacy rights and why they’re so important. And it’s easy to forget about the risks that are out there if they don’t protect their personal information. These risks can range from nuisance (all those marketers who are looking for people to target their ads to) to serious (from the people on the Internet who are looking for identities to steal, to the predators who are looking for victims). Many of them also tend to forget that when they post comments, photos and videos, online, that information is public and permanent and almost impossible to remove.

So today, on National Child Day, take a minute and remind the young people in your life, in your community, that privacy is their right. Have them look around and click through the pages. Encourage them to find information about how they can have fun online while protecting this valuable basic human right.

21 Oct 2008

Another important step towards protecting children’s online privacy

Last week, an important resolution brought forward by our office was passed at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Strasbourg, France. The resolution calls for an international effort to protect the privacy of children online.

Young people today are using the Internet to communicate in numbers that rival the telephone. The resolution stresses that while many young people recognize the risks associated with their online activities, they often lack the experience, technical knowledge and tools to mitigate those risks. In addition, they are sometimes unaware of their own legal rights. The resolution was cosponsored by data protection authorities (DPAs) from New Zealand, France, Ireland, Berlin and the United Kingdom.

The DPAs agree that a global commitment to education and increasing awareness is needed to ensure that children and young people around the world have access to a safe online environment respectful of their privacy. They are also calling on industry to take greater responsibility for protecting user privacy in the online environments they create for children.

This resolution is one more important step towards protecting our children’s online privacy. Earlier this year, in Canada, the federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners and ombudspersons issued a joint resolution expressing their commitment to work together to improve the state of online privacy for children and young people. In addition, the provincial Commissioners responsible for privacy are working with teachers and Ministries of Education to build information and advice into the materials presented to Canadian students. Further inroads are being made internationally as well. Ireland and the Asia-Pacific countries held video contests for kids around the issue of privacy; Spain released a booklet on privacy for parents and children; and Norway has created books and videos on the subject.

7 Nov 2007

Radio Frequency Identification Tags: Two Perspectives

On the second day of the Terra Incognita conference, we had the opportunity to hear about recent innovations in radio frequency identification tags (RFIDs).

RFIDs have been presented as a tremendous technological advancement that will help companies large and small track their inventory, expedite shipments and protect goods in a retail environment. By design, they are also tracking devices. This can have an effect on personal privacy if RFID technology is linked to information that can identify an individual.

Two distinct perspectives were presented. Dr. Kathryn Albrecht, the Director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, delivered a critical broadside against radio tags and their consumer applications. On the other hand, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, argued the benefits of building privacy guarantees into technologies such as RFIDs. She focused specifically on her Office’s work and the development of the IPC Privacy Guidelines for RFID Information Systems.

We have transferred both Dr. Albrecht and Dr. Cavoukian’s presentations to They are embedded below as well.

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

In addition, the Conference research papers and presentations on RFIDs are available online.

21 Oct 2007

How children’s sites see your kids as marketing goldmines

On the second day of our conference, Professor Valerie Steeves spoke about how children interact with popular sites like Webkinz, Neopets and Barbie Girls. We have already provided a brief summary of her presentation and her fellow speakers on the subject, but thought you would like to see her speech. The presentation deck she used for her speech, and to which she refers, is also available online.

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

19 Oct 2007

Secretary Chertoff speaks on privacy and security

As we mentioned several weeks ago, Michael Chertoff spoke at the opening session of the 29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

The Secretary of Homeland Security spoke about the tension between privacy and security, and questioned whether every step taken to strengthen national security must come at the expense of privacy? A few more details are available on the Secretary’s own blog.

Today, we finally uploaded his 30 minute speech. It’s available on, and we’ve embedded it below as well.

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

5 Oct 2007

Fleischer on Google, Privacy and Consumers

We heard from Peter Fleischer, the Chief Privacy Officer for search company Google, on Friday.

Speaking in French, he touched upon how Google faced different expectations to protect personal information and privacy from consumers and advocates in different countries and jurisdictions around the world.

As could be expected, he also argued for the creation of global privacy standards. Mr. Fleischer also emphasized that some data needs to be retained in order to personalize the services offered by Google and other online applications – and emphasized that users find the personalization of services extremely valuable and convenient.

The video is divided into two parts, and is only available in French. Sorry.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

5 Oct 2007

Professor Geist on video

As we mentioned earlier this week, Professor Michael Geist spoke at the closing session of the Conference. He noted that we already live in a world where surveillance is common place, and our personal data trail crosses borders and oceans and lives in countless databases.

“Chertoff came to us and said “this is my world, this is my vision, what are you prepared to do about it?”

We have posted the video of Professor Geist’s speech on YouTube, and you can view it below.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Videos are posted in the language of the original speaker.

27 Sep 2007

Privacy and Security

Privacy and Security: Not Necessarily a Battle to the Death

Reporters at our conference this morning had an opportunity to hear from the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, about the  relationship between privacy and security. His main conclusion seemed to be that the two seemingly contrary principles could build on each other.

“I actually believe that many of the measures we take serve to enhance security and serve to enhance privacy,” said Chertoff, the keynote speaker at a major conference of privacy commissioners and experts from around the world in Montreal. Canadian Press, September 26, 2007

Here’s how Mr. Chertoff thinks this could work:

By collecting little pieces of information from everyone that aren’t overly private or invasive to gather, security officials can quickly target potential threats and avoid subjecting all travellers to intensive scrutiny or searches. CanWest News Service, September 26, 2007

Update: there’s more discussion of his proposal on Michael Chertoff’s own blog.

26 Sep 2007

And it’s off


We’ve shoehorned over 600 delegates into the conference rooms at the Sheraton Centre in Montreal. Our day began with speeches from:

  • Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner
  • the Honourable Peter Milliken, the Speaker of the House of Commons
  • Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Secretary for Homeland Security

Unfortunately, these speeches won’t be available online – but we may have video of Secretary Chertoff available later in the week.

At the moment, we’ve got the first of many high-powered plenary sessions going on. Warren Allmand, Bruce Schneier, Jacob Kohnstamm and Barry Steinhardt.

And the list goes on. Too bad you’re not here.