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Privacy for the next decade, not next week

Is the privacy community weakening its influence by concentrating on the incidents and obsessions of everyday life? By reacting to decisions made by individual companies, by focusing on specific technical challenges and eventually acceding to the creation of tools that both solve those technical challenges and enable the gradual erosion of our right to privacy, are we behaving shortsightedly?

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How the Olympics results in increased surveillance

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Canadians often face the argument that increased public video surveillance is necessary to guarantee their personal safety, or to make sure that their neighbourhood, community or city remains free of vandalism, poor driving or violent crime. Once a new surveillance technique or technology is put into operation, it becomes difficult to reverse the decision – and, consequently, we, as individual members of society, lose one more private moment in time.

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What’s your comfort level online?

A recent UK study on social networks found that many users aren’t that concerned about posting personal information online because the whole point of social network sites is to share details about yourself so you can link up with other people and communicate. This point of view is not surprising because it’s human nature to focus on the benefits and not think through all the possible consequences. Also, people’s comfort level online is directly related to assumptions they make about risk.

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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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