Meet Louise.

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Meet Louise.

Louise is a central character in our upcoming Consumer Privacy Consultations - not because of her great hair, but because she's engaged online the way many Canadians are...she buys clothing and books online, she updates her Facebook profile regularly, she's got an iPhone.

She's also our fictional case study for examining how our data travels as we engage with the online world - who's got our data? What are they doing with it?

Below is just one of several scenarios we've developed to help ground our conversations during the consultation process. This one will be used during the Advertising panel this week in Toronto. As you read it, ask yourself:

Is Louise aware of how her information may be used when she searches for and buys materials at online bookstores?

How accurate is the advertising profile developed for Louise, given that she shares the computer with other members of her family including her nine-year-old brother?

How could Louise's profile information be matched with publicly available information to draw inferences about her? What types of decisions are or could be made based on her profile information?  What are the risks of combining online and offline profiles? Or the risks involved in combining different online profiles, like Louise's Facebook profile with the profile her favourite online bookstore has of her?

Louise is a stylish 21-year college student who likes to meet people and try new things. She is active online and does everything from buying trendy clothing and concert tickets to keeping up touch with friends through posting updates and photos to her Facebook page.  Now in her final year of college, Louise is starting to look for a job. She is putting herself through school by making jewellery and selling it online. She is also a collector of specialty comic books and belongs to an international network of comic book enthusiasts. Louise also has a younger brother, David, who is nine years old.

Louise bought some designer jeans at a store in her local mall with her credit card. She also had the clerk swipe her loyalty card.

When Louise arrived home, she signed into her new account at the store’s web site to learn more about the clothes she had carried into the changing room but not bought. In her excitement to see the store’s merchandise, she clicked through the site’s lengthy privacy policy.

In looking on the store’s web site for a blouse to go with her new jeans, Louise saw an advertisement for jewellery that really appealed to her, so she followed it. Louise felt comfortable at the small Canadian jewellery site because the style of the site was as though she were visiting a friend’s page.

She also liked the styles of jewellery on the site so she bought a necklace and clicked on the "Like" button to update her friends on her latest purchase. From there, she left the store site and searched for the listing of a concert and bought 2 tickets. After that, she checked the status of the online auction she was participating in to get a new specialty comic book.

After this, Louise updated her Facebook page to let her friends know about her purchases and to see who else would be attending the concert. From Facebook, she checked out her favourite online bookstore where she purchased a book that was recommended to her by another comic book expert.

We're hoping to generate some discussion around Louise's activities - join the discussion by commenting on our blog, or jumping into the Twitter-stream on Thursday (hashtag #priv2010). We also invite you to check out the live webcast.

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