Archive for the ‘Surveillance’ Category

15 Feb 2012

Preliminary reaction from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to Bill C-30


Our Office understands the challenges faced by law enforcement and national security authorities in fighting online crime at a time of rapidly changing communications technologies and the need to modernize their tactics and tools accordingly.

We’re not necessarily opposed to legislation that modernizes police powers online – but it must demonstrably help protect the public, respect fundamental privacy principles established in Canadian law and be subject to proper oversight.

Upon a preliminary review following the tabling of Bill C-30, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner recognizes the government has made improvements to this Bill from previous iterations. On balance, however, significant privacy concerns remain.

We recognize that the government has reduced the number of data elements which could be accessed by authorities without a warrant or prior judicial authorization.  At the same time, by requiring authorities to conduct regular audits and to provide them both to the relevant Minister and oversight bodies, including our Office, this appears to help address past concerns about a lack of oversight.

On the balance however, the new Bill still contains serious privacy concerns, similar to past versions.

In particular, we are concerned about access, without a warrant, to subscriber information behind an IP address.  Since this broad power is not limited to reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity or to a criminal investigation, it could affect any law-abiding citizen.

Going forward, we will be reviewing this Bill in full to determine:

How the Government justifies this warrantless access in a free and democratic society?;

How does “after the fact” review by ministerial and non-judicial bodies compare with “up front” oversight by the courts?;

Whether the new powers proposed by the legislation are demonstrably necessary, proportionate and effective?; and

Are there less privacy-invasive alternatives to achieve the desired outcomes?

It is through this lens that our Office will undertake a thorough review of the Bill.  We look forward to sharing our views with Parliament.

This post is closed to comments.


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!


3 Jun 2011

Insights on Privacy – Privacy, Surveillance, and Public Safety


On June 23rd, 2011, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner is holding the fourth Insights on Privacy armchair discussion. We heard in April about opportunities for privacy in the design of intimate devices that we share our lives with every day, like smart phones, and the sensor-rich landscape that’s upon us.

To complement this talk, we’ve invited David Murakami-Wood and Craig Forcese to examine the privacy risks in a society that is placing its citizens under greater surveillance with each passing year.

David Murakami Wood is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University and holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Surveillance Studies. Until August 2009, he was Reader in Surveillance Studies in the Global Urban Research Unit at Newcastle University in the UK. He had an ESRC Research Fellowship for a project called Cultures of Urban Surveillance, which looked at the globalization of surveillance in different global cities. David is a member of The Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s and is part of The New Transparency research initiative. He is also Managing Editor of Surveillance & Society, the international journal of surveillance studies, and a founder-member of the Surveillance Studies Network.

Craig Forcese, LL.M, has been an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa since 2003. Previously, he practiced international trade law with Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in Washington D.C., representing clients in proceedings before the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the World Trade Organization. He also served as a law clerk for Mr. Justice Andrew MacKay at the Federal Court of Canada. Craig is the author of a number of books on law and national security, and a frequent blogger.

To participate:

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 knowledge.savoir@priv.gc.ca by June 20th and we will try to incorporate it in the issues we cover. You are also invited to tweet the content using the #privtalks hashtag, whether attending in person or not.

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 June 20, 2011. Simultaneous interpretation for both official languages will be available.

When: 2:00-4:00 p.m. Thursday, June 23, 2011
Where: Minto Suites Hotel, 185 Lyon Street North, 2nd Floor, Salon Vanier/Stanley

RSVP: knowledge.savoir@priv.gc.ca


29 Mar 2011

Insights on Privacy – Adam Greenfield and Aza Raskin


On April 20th, 2011, our Office is holding the third Insights on Privacy armchair discussion. We heard in February about what motivates us to reveal or conceal details of our personal lives, and how we protect the private lives of others around us.

To complement this talk, we’ve invited tech innovators Adam Greenfield (@agpublic) and Aza Raskin (@azaaza) to explore opportunities for privacy in the design of intimate devices, like smart phones, that we share our lives with every day, to the sensor-rich landscape that’s upon us. We’ll discuss opportunities for companies to empower individuals with greater choice and control over how their data are used and for greater collaboration within and across industry sectors.

In his 2006 book Everyware, Adam Greenfield argued that we were headed for a world in which keeping the boundaries between different roles in our lives was going to prove untenable. That notion is coming to pass with the current debate over the public/private divide and the blurring of our various roles and reputations online. Adam was Nokia‘s head of design direction for user interface and services from 2008 to 2010 and Lead Information Architect at Razorfish Tokyo. His current projects through Urbanscale focus on improving how users experience technology, such as stored-value cards for public transit and many other “smart-city” initiatives.

Aza Raskin’s passion for improving the way we experience technology recently had him heading up user experience for Mozilla, developer of the popular Firefox browser, where he rethought and simplified conventional approaches to privacy policies. Raskin left Mozilla in late 2010 to launch the start-up Massive Health, with the goal of helping people improve control of their health through innovatively designed technology and the ways we interact with it.

The video of this event will be made available after the event, as we did for the December 10, 2010 event with Jesse Hirsh and Chris Soghoian and for the February 28, 2011 event with Christena Nippert-Eng and Alessandro Acquisti.

Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP before April 15, 2011. Simultaneous interpretation for both official languages will be available.

When: 2:00-4:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Where: Minto Suites Hotel, 185 Lyon Street North, 2nd Floor, Salon Vanier/Stanley

RSVP: knowledge.savoir@priv.gc.ca


7 Sep 2010

Know a Young Person Who’d Like to Win an iPad?


We’re launching our 2010 My Privacy & Me Video Contest for 12-18-year-olds – and the first-place winners will win an iPad!

It’s the same thing this year – but a little different, too! Again, we’re asking them to create their own public service announcements about privacy. But this year, we’d like the videos to fall into one of four categories: Surveillance; Reputation Management; Targeted Advertising; or Online Scams. You can find all contest details here.

This year, teams can consist of one to three people. First-place winners in each category will win an iPad. Second-place winners will win a $200 gift card; and third-place winners will win a $100 gift card. We’ve recognized top-participating schools and teachers in the past, and we have something in store for them in 2010! The deadline is December 10, 2010.

For inspiration, sit down with your young ones and watch the 2009 winning videos. Then, have them start exercising their video-making muscles – we can’t wait to see what they’ve got!


18 Jun 2010

Girl chewing gum



Last month, I featured a film of a streetscape in San Francisco originally shot during the first years of the twentieth century. In that post, I suggested that this film represented one of the first demonstrations of public surveillance, and highlighted how individuals in the film had subverted the process by behaving in exhibitionistic or privacy-protective ways.

“girl chewing gum” is a similar work – a continuous film of a city street, at a point during 1976 in a rather plain part of East London.

This time, however, a soundtrack is overlaid to create the illusion that the pedestrians within the frame are being given stage instructions by the ostensible director, John Smith.

This pretense begins to fall apart as the film progresses, but it serves to remind us that any film is subject to interpretation and misinterpretation. The eye of the beholder is naturally informed by personal experience, rough class distinctions reinforced by clothing and gait, social and economic bias, among many other factors.

Notably, the director’s ability to anticipate a pedestrian’s behavior is limited by his range of vision, and his false stage directions are influenced by his ability to rewind and review.

In any case, his film reflects bare moments in the life of each pedestrian, ignorant of their thoughts, the impulse that led to their walking down Stamford Road,or their eventual destination.

Thanks to Joe Moran for pointing out the film’s appearance online.


7 May 2010

The dawn of public camera surveillance


The dawn of public camera surveillance - San Francisco
It’s a snapshot from the very first days of public camera surveillance – a streetcar slowly moves down San Francisco’s Market Street sometime in 1905 or 1906*, toting a camera at its very front. Produced by local film makers the Miles Brothers, it appears to offer a relatively unvarnished look at the street life of the time.

Commentary from Library of Congress archivists, who restored the film nearly forty years ago, noted that some of the streetscape was staged:

“… a careful tracking of automobile traffic shows that almost all of the autos seen circle around the camera/cable car many times (one ten times). This traffic was apparently staged by the producer to give Market Street the appearance of a prosperous modern boulevard with many automobiles …”

Nevertheless, the behaviour of the many pedestrians offers some insight into early reaction to the presence of a camera in public. In the opening minutes of the film, the camera does not seem to affect behaviour on the street. Some gentlemen preen and pose as they spot the camera, but most go about their business. There are some expressions of surprise, as even a camera is a novelty for the time. Some seem to be upset that the streetcar, despite the camera, will not stop to pick them up.

The longer the camera travels down the street, though, the more blatant the behaviour change. I’ve clipped a few stills from the film to illustrate these points:

  • Some, expecting the streetcar to stop for their signal, were perplexed
  • One man noticed the camera, then tilted his hat and sped up to avoid having his face captured on film
  • Several car loads of men appear and reappear throughout the film
  • One man notices the camera, stops to have his image recorded, then runs farther down the street so he can stand directly in the path of the streetcar for several seconds.
  • Children, of course, dart in an out of the frame. At the very end of the film, a handful of kids seize control of the scene.

Consider the very different results when a similar film was made in Vancouver, in 1907: the filmmaker spoke to the local newspapers about his plans and actively encouraged citizens to step into the frame. The result?

“… the Vancouver Province reported that “many prominent citizens were suddenly stricken with kinetoscopitis yesterday” and reassured readers that “kinetoscopitis is not nearly as serious in its effects as spinal meningitis.” The article observed that “the way that prominent citizens suddenly discovered that they had business on the other side of the street and strolled across sort of unconcerned like, when they saw the kinetoscope coming was very amusing to those on the front of the car.”

In contrast, public surveillance is very much expected today. Just look at a Google Maps mashup, created yesterday, of the locations from which members of the public filmed the tasing of a Phillies baseball fan chased across the field at Citizens Bank Park – and then posted that footage online.

*see more on the debate about the film’s date at the SFGate blog. Recent research suggests this film was shot just days before the 1906 earthquake – which destroyed much of Market Street.

**did you see the guy on a horse?


3 May 2010

Transparency, search engines and government appetite for data


There has been a long-standing debate between privacy advocates and government officials about the extent of government interest in the information transmitted across domestic and international networks. The passage of USA PATRIOT Act intensified this debate and prompted concern from a more general audience as well. Ever since, the digerati and online crowd have been whispering and wondering about the interface between search engines, particularly Google, and law enforcement and national security bodies.

In brief, this comes up in classrooms and at conferences in roughly the following exchange:

Q. “So, should I worry about what Google knows about me?”

A. “Maybe, but I’d worry more about what the government gets out of Google, then matches with what they already know about you.”

Around this issue, researchers like Chris Soghoian in the US (as well as Ben Hayes and Simon Davies overseas) have been pushing for greater transparency from both companies and government on the use of broad data production powers.  Last week, to their great credit, Google took a big first step and published an interactive map on the numbers and types of data requests they recieve from governments around the world.  This coincides with another important US private sector push – Digitaldueprocess.org – that is asking for clear, consistent and accountable measures to be put in place when government ask companies to ‘check up’ on their customers.

We commend Google and others involved for this significant first step, look forward to improvements and more details as they tweak the reporting model and sincerely hope other companies (and, ahem! governments) follow suit.


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!


5 Nov 2009

Lavapies – one neighbourhood battles surveillance


I had the chance earlier this week to attend The Public Voice, a conference in Madrid to help civil society groups share their work and their points of view on important privacy issues.

barriofeliz

One presentation highlighted un barrio feliz – a community led project to protest and undermine the closed circuit surveillance cameras slowly rolling out across Madrid’s neighbourhoods.

This particular effort is a response to the 48 cameras that are being installed in Lavapies, a downtown neighbourhood sometimes criticised for its low-rent atmosphere and late night escort business.

The presenter, David, made a point of noting that the Madrid municipal government has presented different excuses for the cameras, based on individual neighbourhoods.

Around the Puerta del Sol, a popular tourist area, the cameras were installed to deter pickpockets. In Lavapies, the cameras are apparently needed to deter the escorts.

This summer, a local campaign was pulled together to protest the closed circuit surveillance. As part of the campaign, artists and activists designed 37 posters and images that criticise the initiative.

While there are many familiar themes among the images (which, in itself, is a depressing statement for a privacy advocate), there are two that play off the colours and graphics used to support Madrid’s recent 2016 Olympic bid. Here is one (the other is a little rude):

lavapies grabado

These images remind us of similar measures being put in place to ensure security during Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games – measures we have followed with interest.

The rest of the images can be found on a common flickr page, and they’re all CC Attribution 2.0 Generic.