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Protecting personal information online – do young people get it?

Our Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart is worried that maybe they don’t. After conducting an investigation into Facebook’s privacy policies, we’re now turning our attention to youth as the school year gets underway. Because while they may be savvy about using social media, many of them still may not know how to create a secure online identity.

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Who are these identity thieves?

Many of you have serious reservations about conducting on-line transactions, and often associate identity theft with IT geniuses hacking into computer networks. We really can’t turn a blind eye to technological development and its close connection to the emergence of new techniques for exploiting personal information. However, identity theft transcends the virtual world, and it often hits much closer to home.

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Do your young people “think before they upload”?

Did you know it’s Privacy Awareness Week in the Asia Pacific Region? If you’ve got young people in your life, who you’re trying to impart the privacy-awareness message to, have them check out the three-minute video, featured on our YouTube channel, that the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) launched to mark the week.

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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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Because not every frog is a prince

Last year, IT security firm Sophos ran an experiment on Facebook to demonstrate just how willing people were to hand over their information to potential ID thieves. They created a fake profile page on Facebook for a small green plastic frog and sent out 200 friend requests to other Facebook users. Eighty-two of those people responded, and in doing so, divulged personal information like their email address, birthdate, workplace or school location, and phone number – all useful details for the aspiring identity thief.

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A new year’s errand list

As we close out 2007, we’d like to sound a note of caution for privacy rights in Canada. We are lucky to have a variety of protections for personal information and data at the territorial, provincial and federal levels. Nevertheless, the Commissioner took a moment last week to highlight some of the steps that need to be taken by individuals, corporations and the government in the face of continuing challenges:

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