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A word on copyright reform

Last week, after months of speculation from critics and the media, the Minister of Industry unveiled new amendments to Canada’s intellectual property law, the Copyright Act. Previous attempts to revamp the legislation in 2005 dropped off the radar when Parliament went into election mode. This largely extinguished public debate of the bill, which Canada’s privacy champions had spoken out against. At the time, the privacy commissioners of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia all expressed similar concern over the government’s direction.

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Privacy Issues Discussed At MESH

Some of us from the Office attended the MESH Conference in Toronto last month, jumping at the chance to hear a number of thought leaders and innovators in media, technology and society. Privacy, data protection and reputation management were subjects discussed in several of the sessions, but two video clips are available that demonstrate how online users can have wildly different approaches to privacy and the protection of personal information.

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Do you enjoy being watched?

The author of a new article on surveillance in The Walrus thinks you do. Hal Niedzviecki says that while the thought of being monitored used to disturb us (think George Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four), cameras and other surveillance techniques are so prevalent today that we’ve stopped noticing them. And, he says, when we do notice we don’t really care (case in point: when it was announced that 10,000 cameras would be installed in Toronto’s subways, streetcars and buses, he asserts that citizens “shrugged and went about their business”).

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Privacy in Facebook apps — the risk of the SuperPoke

The social networking site Facebook has been under scrutiny lately for lax security with its applications feature. Applications in Facebook are created by third-party software developers and are run on third-party servers. These applications can take many forms – a quiz, a game, or just another way to reach out to friends – but the common feature in all is that they allow software developers to access Facebook users’ personal data.

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Our Top Ten list of Privacy Act fixes

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The Privacy Act, the federal privacy law requiring federal government bodies to respect individual privacy rights, hasn’t been substantially updated since 1982 – the same year the Commodore 64 was released and we stopped calling July 1 Dominion Day. What’s interesting about these changes is they could be implemented immediately and relatively easily – and the benefit to Canadians would be a privacy law that is modern, responsive and efficient.

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