Archive for the ‘Other Privacy Authorities’ Category

24 Jan 2012

New Tips and Tools to Help Your Young Internet Users Protect Their Privacy Online

We all know how savvy kids are with the Internet and online tools. Many of them are way ahead of adults in adapting to new technologies, making it difficult to keep up with them – let alone educate them on online privacy.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is here to help. Today, we launched a new video, tip sheet and presentation package  for youth in grades 7 and 8 (Secondary I and II in Quebec) that will help parents and teachers talk to youth about the importance of protecting their privacy online.

The new video speaks to teens and ‘tweens alike, and covers the key privacy concepts kids need to consider when sharing information online. The video may be viewed online or downloaded to support discussion.

The new tip sheet offers 12 practical tips for parents interested in discussing online privacy with their kids. The tips include simple ideas and advice that parents may use to limit risks to their children’s personal information, while allowing them to continue enjoying their time online.

The Grades 7 and 8 presentation package is the latest release in the Office’s Protecting Your Online Rep presentation series. The package includes slides, speaking notes and discussion topics for use by educators and community leaders to speak with young people about online privacy. The new presentation offers much of the practical privacy advice found in the presentation package for grades 9 to 12, which our Office launched last fall, only the graphics and speaking notes have been tailored to the social realities and online activities of younger students.

These tools are being launched this week as part of our Office’s week-long campaign leading up to Data Privacy Day. For more information on the Office’s Data Privacy Day activities and resources, go to

23 Jan 2012

On Data Privacy Day, think less is more.

Once a year, privacy advocates and enthusiasts around the world get the chance to collectively shine a spotlight on the issue of online privacy.

Data Privacy Day, which is celebrated annually on January 28, is an annual international celebration designed to promote awareness about privacy and education about best privacy practices. Granted, it doesn’t rank up there with Canada Day or Thanksgiving in terms of food, fun or festivity, nevertheless it is a date worth circling on the calendar.

In this digital age, where our online activities can so easily be tracked, stored, shared and analyzed, and we are under constant pressure to share more and more personal information, we are all feeling a bit uneasy about all that personal data floating around in cyberspace.

It’s not that we want to turn our backs on the limitless potential of the Internet. We just need to figure out how we can all limit the potential for online personal information to be misused and abused.

The answer? When it comes to sharing personal information, think less is more.

Once our personal information is on the Internet, we have very little control over who sees it, how it is used, or how long it will be available. By sharing less personal information, we can help limit our exposure and the risks of our personal information being misused, abused or disclosed without consent.

So, whether we are social networking, using an app on a mobile device, or signing up for discounts and deals, we need to think carefully about the personal information we are putting into cyberspace.

Less is more is also good advice for businesses and organizations that collect personal information. Collecting and holding excess data raises the risks for customers, but it is also costly for businesses because it increases the risk of data breaches, which can be damaging to businesses’ reputations and expensive to clean up.

This week, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is pleased to join governments, privacy professionals, corporations, academics and students from around the world, in marking Data Privacy Day.

Our Office will be engaging in a number of activities in the week to leading up to January 28, such as the launch of some new youth privacy tools, and presentations to youth, public servants, businesses and staff. The Office has also produced some new resources, such as posters and graphics which can be used to raise awareness of privacy in any organization.

For more information on the Office’s Data Privacy Day activities and resources, go to our Data Privacy Day web page or

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.

4 Apr 2011

OPC Hosts International Group – Monitoring Risks and Highlighting Opportunities

Our Office is pleased to be hosting the 49th meeting of the “Berlin Group”, more formally known as the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications, which takes place today and tomorrow, in Montreal. This is the first time that this Group has met in Canada. Participants in the meeting, representing more than 20 international data protection and privacy authorities, will be focusing on privacy-related topics such as electronic payments, vehicle event data recorders and locational privacy.

The Berlin Group was established in 1983 by the Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. The Group has, through its continuing examination of the data protection and privacy implications of telecommunications-based systems and services, developed into what the current Chairman and Berlin Commissioner, Dr. Alexander Dix, refers to as “an early warning system monitoring the risks arising from new technological developments, but at the same time, highlighting the opportunities of a privacy-friendly network architecture”.

The Group takes a very inclusive approach on what constitutes a telecommunications-based system or service. Over the years, this has resulted in a detailed examination of a broad range of subjects, everything from search engines and location-based services to social network services and road pricing systems.

20 Apr 2010

Et tu, Google?

Late yesterday, Canada’s privacy commissioner, along with data protection authorities from France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom sent a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt to express their concerns about privacy issues related to Google Buzz.

Are we unfairly picking on Google? Because the privacy practices we mention in our letter are not Google’s alone – they are representative of an industry-wide habit of launching first, debugging later. But Google is a world leader, and a company that has shown it is not afraid of jumping into the data protection debate. We hope that our letter sends a message to others in the online world as well – your users care about their privacy.

The full letter and news release are available on our site, but here are some excerpts:

We are increasingly concerned that, too often, the privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as Google rolls out new technological applications.  We were disturbed by your recent rollout of the Google Buzz social networking application, which betrayed a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms and laws.  Moreover, this was not the first time you have failed to take adequate account of privacy considerations when launching new services….

It is unacceptable to roll out a product that unilaterally renders personal information public, with the intention of repairing problems later as they arise.  Privacy cannot be sidelined in the rush to introduce new technologies to online audiences around the world.

We’ve asked Google for a response, but we also want to know what you think. Let us know in the comments section, or join us via webcast and Twitter (hashtag #priv2010) at our first public consultation next Thursday, April 29.

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.

2 Nov 2009

This week is Media Literacy Week

Is there a young person in your life who is fixated on social network and video-sharing sites, online games and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones? If so, you may want to take notice of the Media Literacy Week, which is taking place this week, from November 2 to 6, 2009.

This year’s theme is Media Literacy in the Digital Age, emphasizing the multiple levels of literacy that young people today need to access, evaluate, repurpose, create and distribute media content if they are to successfully navigate their digital media world.

Young people face many new challenges in this environment, but they also need to know how to protect their privacy while they are online and how to stay safe when using social networks.

This week, take a moment to familiarize yourself with all the great tools that are out there for you to share with your kids, students or other young people in your life. Here is a short list that we’ve compiled for you:

From This Office

If you haven’t already done this, spend some time on our site for young people, parents and educators, It’s full of tips about how young people can enjoy digital tools while staying safe and protecting their privacy. We are also featuring a video contest for 12-18-year-olds and a youth blog which discusses privacy issues that young people face. The site also features two teaching lessons on privacy (for grades 7 to 9 and 9 to 12) that were developed in partnership with the Media Awareness Network.

The Media Awareness Network

Their web site is full of valuable tools, including a Passport to the Internet, an online tutorial to help students in grades four to eight develop the critical thinking skills they need to navigate the web in a secure and ethical manner; and the Media Education: Make it Happen! program, which is a series of free resources to help educators understand and facilitate media literacy in their classrooms.

Our international partners face the same challenges and are working on various projects in order to reach youth. Check out the youth privacy web sites of some of our international partners:

Australia’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner – Whether you never think about privacy or always do, they have created a publication for you. They will tell you what some of the privacy issues are that you might face, some of the pitfalls to avoid, and who to turn to for help if your privacy has been affected.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data of Hong Kong has developed an interactive web site that aims to provide access to information regarding the execution of the Ordinance. It offers unparalleled user-friendly functions and a Privacy Zone for Youngsters that includes a few games.

The Information Commissioner Office of the UK has a youth site that is aimed at helping them protect their personal information.

YOU decide… an ingenious campaign put together by the Norwegian Board of Technology, the Norwegian Data Inspectorate and the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. Their videos, web site and guidebooks are produced by kids, for kids.

4 Nov 2008

Freedom Not Fear Day

Photo of a crowd from Freedom Not Fear dayOn October 11, In 22 cities across Europe, citizens demonstrated to express their concerns over what they see as the increasing growth in government-created surveillance societies. October 11 was Freedom Not Fear Day, organized by the German Working Group on Data Retention.

In Berlin alone, over 15,000 protesters gathered in a rally that ended at the Brandenburg Gate. (The organizers have argued that 15,000 is a lowball number from the authorities, and the actual number could be closer to 50,000.) Peaceful and creative action took place throughout Europe, including art performances in Vienna, public lectures in Rome, and the construction of a collage made from uploaded photos of UK surveillance equipment and tactics in London.

From the website of the German Working Group on Data Protection:

“Surveillance mania is spreading. Governments and businesses register, monitor and control our behaviour ever more thoroughly. No matter what we do, who we phone and talk to, where we go, whom we are friends with, what our interests are, which groups we participate in – “big brother” government and “little brothers” in business know it more and more thoroughly. The resulting lack of privacy and confidentiality is putting at risk the freedom of confession, the freedom of speech as well as the work of doctors, helplines, lawyers and journalists.

The manifold agenda of security sector reform encompasses the convergence of police, intelligence agencies and the military, threatening to melt down the division and balance of powers. Using methods of mass surveillance, the borderless cooperation of the military, intelligence services and police authorities is leading towards the construction of “Fortresses” in Europe and on other continents, directed against refugees and different-looking people but also affecting, for example, political activists, the poor and under-priviledged, and sports fans.

People who constantly feel watched and under surveillance cannot freely and courageously stand up for their rights and for a just society. Mass surveillance is thereby threatening the fabric of a democratic and open society. Mass surveillance is also endangering the work and commitment of civil society organizations.

Surveillance, distrust and fear are gradually transforming our society into one of uncritical consumers who have “nothing to hide” and – in a vain attempt to achieve total security – are prepared to give up their freedoms. We do not want to live in such a society!

We believe the respect for our privacy to be an important part of our human dignity. A free and open society cannot exist without unconditionally private spaces and communications.”

In the United States, Freedom Not Fear Day was supported by a number of NGOs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Together, they issued a release calling for an end to watch lists and data profiling programs that fail to comply with the federal Privacy Act, the establishment of comprehensive data protection legislation, and the repeal of the Patriot Act.

But Freedom Not Fear Day was a decidedly more subdued affair in the U.S. Besides this endorsement and statement issued by EPIC, EFF and IP Justice, no other activities appear to have been scheduled to commemorate Freedom Not Fear Day in Washington D.C. Canadian activities were similarly subdued: the official website notes that a light projection was planned for Toronto’s City Hall but information on who organized it and how it turned out couldn’t be found.

Granted, the roots of Freedom Not Fear Day are in Berlin and the global day of action seems to have spread to other European capitals but it’s interesting to note that North Americans seem reluctant to stand up to the notion of “security theatre“.

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.

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