TELUS WISE® essay: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s discussion about privacy and online reputation


August 2016

Note: This submission was contributed by the author(s) to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Consultation on Online Reputation.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the discussion about online privacy and reputation. This is a topic that TELUS takes seriously. Accordingly, we launched TELUS WISE (Wise Internet & Smartphone Education) in 2013 to educate all Canadians, free-of-charge, about keeping safe online — including protecting their privacy and online reputation. A high level response to four of the five questions posed is provided below with further details about the TELUS WISE program included on the following pages.

TELUS has read and understands these consultation procedures.

Who are the key players and what are their roles and responsibilities?

At TELUS we believe that individuals must play a key role in taking responsibility for our online privacy and reputation. In order to do so, it is critically important that we, as individual Canadians, understand the online products and services we use and the implications of sharing or “publicizing” information about us and others. At TELUS, we also believe that it is the responsibility of a wide variety of groups and institutions (industry, government, law enforcement, education and topic experts) to collaborate on educating Canadians on this important topic. By way of example, TELUS collaborates with many organizations/groups to educate Canadians for the delivery of TELUS WISE. To date we have reached almost 1 million Canadians.

What practical, technical, policy or legal solutions should be considered to mitigate online reputational risks?

Creating an ongoing dialogue with Canadians of all ages about Internet safety, including online privacy and reputation, through in-person seminars and providing educational materials via various media (e.g. web, print, games) is essential. To the extent possible, we believe that interactive media is the optimal way to promote this type of learning. Talking with vs. talking to Canadians about this topic will engage them in a meaningful and collaborative way. In addition to a multi-media approach, we believe that a multi-venue approach is most effective. Providing tools to parents to discuss these issues with their children, additions to the school curriculum, volunteer opportunities for individuals to participate in this discussion, industry education, education from the suppliers of relevant products and services, and government education campaigns could all contribute substantially to the goal of empowering individuals with the ability to make informed choices about how and where they share their own information, what information they share, and how they can respectfully use/share/bump the information of others. We believe there is a place for legal, policy and technical solutions, too, but these cannot entirely replace individual responsibility and informed decision-making.

What other gaps exist?

Many groups/organizations do not have the funds to develop educational resources for their constituents (e.g. schools). If we can collaborate (government, industry, etc.) on the creation and sharing of meaningful educational resources we can have a tremendous impact on increasing the knowledge of Canadians on this front.

Should there be special measures for vulnerable groups?

Working with many groups on the topic of Internet safety, there are a number of groups we need to customize education for: First Nations, LGBTQ, high risk youth (e.g. kids leaving foster care), and Canadian Seniors are good examples of where we have focused our customization efforts.

If you have any questions about this response please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Pam Snively
Chief Data & Trust Officer, TELUS

Shelly Smith
Director, TELUS WISE

TELUS WISE (Wise Internet and Smartphone Education) Program overview

TELUS WISE is a unique educational program focused on Internet and smartphone safety to help keep Canadians safer from online criminal activity such as financial fraud and cyberbullying. This program is available to all Canadians free-of-charge and includes three unique programs:

  • TELUS WISE is a program for adults, which provides access to:
    • Seminars — TELUS WISE Ambassadors host one hour public seminars engaging participants in a discussion about Internet and smartphone safety and security. These seminars are also available upon request for TELUS business customers, community investment partners, parent groups and community associations.
    • A WISE virtual community —is a secure website that provides users with ongoing access to great resources, articles and training around Internet and smartphone safety and security for their families.
    • TELUS Learning Centres - Learning Specialists in more than 400 of our exclusive TELUS locations, provide personalized, one-on-one guidance to customers on Internet and smartphone safety and security as a part of our Learning Centre program.
  • TELUS WISE footprint is an online digital citizenship program for kids ages seven through 14/15. This program provides a multi-faceted experience for Canadian kids to learn how to become good digital citizens and keep their digital footprint clean. There are also some great ways for kids to earn dollars for their school’s digital literacy programs while they learn. We have recently introduced TELUS WISE footprint seminars that we take to schools for students to engage in a discussion on keeping their digital footprint clean.
  • TELUS WISE in control focuses on engaging senior high and post-secondary students on how to protect and positively grow their online reputation.

TELUS has reached almost 1 million Canadians to date with TELUS WISE. This program would not be possible without ongoing collaboration with our partners. By example we are honored to have the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) endorse the TELUS WISE program. Collaboration with our partners has delivered important educational materials such as

Cyberbullying research

In the summer of 2015, TELUS partnered with PREVNet and MediaSmarts to conduct a national survey of 800 youth ages 12—18, to learn more about their attitudes and experiences as witnesses to electronic bullying. Little research has been done in this area, so we sought to discover the factors that influence whether or not young people intervene when they encounter bullying online and their perspectives on the helpfulness of various ways to do this.

The responses provided by the young people who participated in our survey paints a complex portrait of the roles of witnesses and the choices that they make — and offers tremendous insight into how adults can better support them. These findings and implications will be elaborated on in the full report.

The following are a few key findings:

Experiences of electronic bullying

  • Electronic bullying is happening a lot. In the four weeks prior to taking the survey, 42% of youth said they were electronically bullied and 60% said they had witnessed others being electronically bullied.
  • Boys and minorities were more likely to experience electronic bullying and to have bullied others electronically.
  • Older youth were more likely to experience electronic bullying compared to younger youth.
  • Youth who are victimized online are also more likely to bully online.

Intervening in electronic bullying

  • The good news is that youth want to help: 71% of those who saw electronic bullying did something to intervene at least once.
  • Neither gender nor age made a difference in willingness to intervene.

Motivation for and barriers to intervening

  • Youths' willingness to intervene in electronic bullying depends on their relationship with the target. 90% of youth said they would intervene if their family member were the target of electronic bullying while only 37% would intervene for someone they do not know personally.
  • Youth were asked to rate 17 intervention strategies to handle electronic bullying. Most thought it would be helpful to comfort the target privately; tell a trusted adult; and talk about how to handle it with parents and/or friends.
  • The least helpful strategies would be to read it and do nothing, or laugh at it.
  • When asked about the factors that would increase their likelihood of intervening in electronic bullying, participants said they would be most motivated to do something if the electronic bullying was clearly wrong or hurtful.
  • It's also important for youth to believe that something will come out of intervening that will actually make a difference and for them to be able to do this anonymously.
  • Rewards or praise for intervening were not seen as being important for most youth.
  • When asked whether they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements about barriers to intervening, most youth believed something can be done in response to electronic bullying. But they were not fully convinced that their concerns will be taken seriously, or that adults will be helpful and worried that intervening might make things worse for the target, or turn them into targets themselves.
  • Youth who had been electronically bullied in the four weeks prior to the survey were more likely than their non-bullied peers to believe there would be negative consequences for intervening.


Electronic bullying is still a significant problem and is happening to far too many youth. There are clear messages:

  1. Youth need to be empowered and fully involved in preventing and intervening in electronic bullying.
  2. Adults need to be more active in empowering youth to address it by removing the perceived barriers and by increasing motivation to intervene.
  3. Creating healthy relationships and relationships that respect diversity will ensure that the rights of all youth are respected and actively supported.

Check out the complete report.

Check out the infographic.

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