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To err is human: some thoughts about online privacy

Last month, we held our second Insights on Privacy armchair event, with Alessandro Acquisti and Christena Nippert-Eng as our guests. Much of the discussion revolved around the challenges of negotiating privacy in an online environment, and we heard many interesting observations about how human nature gets in the way of good online privacy decisions. Dr. Acquisti’s research shows that the more in control people feel over their personal information, the more sensitive information they tend to disclose. Granular controls in privacy settings give people a sense of power over their information that may be more illusion than reality. When deciding how much information to reveal, people also become confused in online environments because they cannot rely on the physical cues that guide them in their off-line interactions. Without physically seeing our audience, it’s easy to misjudge or disregard those who can see us.

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Connecting Your New Gadget to the Wireless Internet

Many people will be getting shiny, new wireless gadgets this holiday season. This might be a new smart phone, a laptop or netbook computer, or a tablet such as the iPad. One of the most attractive features of these devices is that they can connect to the Internet wirelessly, using Wi-Fi networks found in homes, offices, and many public locations (hotspots). This is a great feature, but it does come with risks.

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New Deadline for Feedback on our Consultations

As you may know, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada held public consultations in the spring of 2010 on online tracking, profiling and targeting; and cloud computing. Alongside the consultations we held in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary, we received many written submissions as well. The consultations were aimed at learning more about certain industry practices, exploring their privacy implications, and finding out what privacy protections Canadians expect in terms of these practices.

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Insights on Privacy - Jesse Hirsh and Chris Soghoian on the Frontiers of the Privacy Landscape

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is holding the first armchair discussion in its Insights on Privacy Speakers’ Series. Our first event will take place on Friday, December 10th with Chris Soghoian and Jesse Hirsh. Chris and Jesse will report from the frontiers of the privacy landscape and give their thought-provoking insights into what the future of privacy might look like. Known as stimulating speakers, Chris and Jesse will no doubt push some boundaries and engage the audience on their assumptions and understanding of privacy, identity and reputation online.

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