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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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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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