Contributions Program projects underway

On June 12, 2018, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) announced funding for a new round of independent research and knowledge translation projects funded under its Contributions Program. These projects will be completed by March 31, 2019. The OPC will post a summary of completed projects, as well as links to their outcomes, once the projects are completed and reviewed by the OPC.

The following is a list of projects currently underway in 2018-2019 that are funded under the Contributions Program:

Project Title: Parenting in the digital age: Sharing personal information on social media and consequences with respect to the right to privacy and the right to release children’s images
Organization: Option consommateurs
Project Leader: Maryse Guénette
Location: Quebec
Funding Amount: $74,110.00

Project Description:

This project explores parents’ posting of information on and pictures of their children on social media. Such postings can have serious consequences and raise competing legal issues, such as parents’ freedom of expression, children’s consent, the right to privacy, and the right to release children’s images.

Option consommateurs will assess to what extent children’s rights are protected in this context. Researchers will determine parents’ knowledge, perceptions and attitudes with regard to the potential impact of the sharing of information and pictures of their children, and will interview young adults about their views on this issue.


Project Title: Production and sharing of digital content pertaining to privacy protection
Organization: CHOQ-FM
Project Leader: Tonia Mori
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $50,000.00

Project Description:

The goal of this project is to raise public awareness and understanding of privacy protection by maximizing the benefits of the research funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

CHOQ-FM 105,1 and its partners will encourage the production and sharing of digital content pertaining to privacy protection using a multiplatform bringing together community radio and television stations and online media, community media journalists and Web influencers across Canada.

By sharing best practices to mitigate privacy risks, the project’s objective is to make Canadians more vigilant, better equipped and more discriminating when it comes to protecting their privacy. A series of 20 audio-visual productions in both official languages will be broadcast by over 30 community radio and television stations and online platforms across Canada.


Project Title: Raising Public Awareness about Genealogical Privacy across Canada
Organization: Department of English, York University
Project Leader: Julia Creet
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $50,050.30

Project Description:

This project leverages a documentary that was previously funded through the Contributions Program, titled Data Mining the Deceased: Ancestry and the Business of Family, which explores genealogy and related privacy issues. The goal of the project is to encourage critical thinking when it comes to sharing personal data and DNA with corporate entities involved in genealogical research.

The project aims to extend the original documentary’s reach by dubbing it in French-language, and by broadening the discussion of genetic genealogy with genealogists and influencers in privacy education.


Project Title: Understanding and Responding to the Privacy and Safety Risks of Stalkerware
Organization: Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto
Project Leader: Chris Parsons
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $41,610.00

Project Description:

This project will examine the growing risks of “consumer” spyware technology in Canada for the privacy and safety of women, girls, and children in the context of family violence and abusive relationships.

Commonly used spyware will be submitted to technical and legal analyses in order to investigate the lawfulness of their creation, sale, purchase, and operation, and to address unfair or deceptive practices, from the design to the use of this technology.

The research will help clarify general threats to security and privacy, and identify risks associated with spyware-facilitated domestic surveillance and abuse.


Project Title: Privacy Leakage in Canadian Public Wi-Fi Networks
Organization: Institute for Information Systems Engineering, Concordia University
Project Leader: Mohammad Mannan
Location: Quebec
Funding Amount: $58,391.00

Project Description:

The aim of this project is to examine security and privacy risks of public Wi-Fi hotspots through a comprehensive and systematic technical investigation.

The analysis of Canadian public hotspots will include: (1) scrutinizing their available privacy policies as well as their terms and conditions of use, (2) measuring privacy leakage to hotspot operators, and (3) identifying vulnerabilities in infrastructures, attack opportunities for malicious hotspot users, and abuses of personal information used in hotspot authentication.

This project will produce the first-ever public hotspot privacy report card in Canada and will present recommendations for improving these services in terms of security and privacy.


Project Title: SAFETY NET: Assessing Privacy Enhancing Technologies to Enhance Organizational Technology Practices used by Canadian Anti-Violence Organizations to Protect the Privacy and Security of Women and Children
Organization: BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH)
Project Leader: Rhiannon Wong
Location: British Columbia
Funding Amount: $60,000.00

Project Description:

This project will research the use of online databases by Canadian anti-violence organizations, and the implications for women and children’s privacy, confidentiality and safety.

A survey of Canadian anti-violence organizations regarding their current online database practices will be conducted, as well as a survey of Canadian companies providing commercial products to anti-violence organizations such as online databases, online client and case management systems.

The project will result in a research report outlining findings, and knowledge translation tools to to assist programs across Canada serving women and children victims of violence on their use of online databases.


Project Title: Educational Media: Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Organization: Surveillance Studies Centre, Queens University
Project Leaders: David Lyon and David Murakami Wood
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $70,000.00

Project Description:

The overall goal of this project is to increase public understanding of widespread surveillance systems and technologies, and how to control and enhance data privacy.

Emphasis will be placed on (1) how large organizations use data, (2) how these practices affect life chances and choices, and (3) what, if any, options are available to improve data privacy practices.

The project will result in three video vignettes addressing the following topics:

  1. Privacy and social media: online surveillance
  2. Privacy and movement: smart cities as big data surveillance
  3. Privacy and the body: wearables and big data

Project Title: Professional Standards for Private Sector Cybersecurity Enforcement Agents to Permit Access to Canadians' Personal Internet Information
Organization: University of Toronto
Project Leader: Andrew Clement
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $37,000.00

Project Description:

This project sets out to explore the feasibility of developing professional standards for cybersecurity practitioners. Developing standards could enable automated authenticated access to personal Internet registration information, and enhance the accountability and transparency of cybercrime-fighting activities.

The team will review literature and consult key stakeholders in Canada and internationally. Following this research, the team will produce a proposal, discuss and debate it in a public forum, then publish a final report.


Project Title: The Privacy Implications of Smart Cities
Organization: MacMaster University
Project Leader: Sara Bannerman
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $29,000.00

Project Description:

The goal of this project is to provide a deeper understanding of the privacy implications of smart cities in Canada.

It will give an overview of some of the smart city technologies – such as automated license plate readers and public Wi-Fi networks – in use in Canada’s five largest metropolitan areas (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa), along with their known privacy implications. Through a survey of Canadians, the project also will provide a deeper understanding of privacy concerns raised by the public about smart city technologies.

The project will result in a report that will be made available publicly, containing possible policy and legislative responses to address the concerns identified by the research.


Funded projects completed in 2017-18

The following projects were completed March 31, 2018. A summary of the projects will be available in the coming months.

Project Title: Privacy Report Card for Children's Smart Toys
Organization:
Concordia University
Project Leader: Mohammad Mannan
Location:
Ontario
Funding Amount:
$ 49,767.00

Project Description: This research project will examine the security and privacy risks associated with smart conversational toys currently sold in Canada. The researchers will conduct a comprehensive and systematic technical analysis to produce a Smart Toys Privacy Report Card. The report card will summarize the research findings, and present recommendations for improving the security and privacy of these toys. Upon completion of the project, the researchers will publish a report and academic paper detailing the full methodology, results, and recommendations.


Project Title: A Privacy Code of Practice for the Connected Car
Organization:
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Project Leader: Rajen Akalu
Location:
Ontario
Funding Amount:
$ 21,155.00

Project Description: This project aims to develop a privacy code of practice for car companies developing and manufacturing “connected cars”, vehicles capable of gathering information about, and communicating with, their internal systems, other vehicles on the road, and local infrastructure, as well as the car’s driver and occupants. The code of practice could provide an added measure of predictability and consistency for car companies in terms of understanding their obligations around meaningful consent and appropriate limits on data processing, as well as provide greater clarity for individuals about how their data is processed.


Project Title: Data Defenders: Managing Collection of Personal Information Online - A Game for Students in Grades 4-6
Organization: MediaSmarts
Project Leader: Jane Tallim
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount: $ 49,808.60

Project Description: This project will develop a bilingual interactive game that teaches students in grades 4 to 6 about the concept of personal data and its economic value, the ways in which data is collected online, as well as how to control what information is collected and how it is used. Data Defenders/Défenseurs des données will be compatible across various platforms, including desktop and mobile devices, and will be supported by an accompanying lesson plan and teachers’ and parents’ guides. To encourage its use in schools across Canada, an online tutorial and related resources will support the Personal Data Protection Competency Framework for School Students, developed by international data protection authorities, and existing curriculum in each province and territory.


Project Title: A Privacy Code of Practice for Legal Apps
Organization:
University of Ottawa
Project Leader: Amy Salyzyn
Location:
Ontario
Funding Amount:
$ 40,347.88

Project Description: This project will develop a Privacy Code of Practice for Legal Apps. Through collaboration and consultation with experts and stakeholders, including app developers, privacy and technology experts, civil society organizations and Canadian law societies and bar associations, the researchers will develop detailed policies and practices that encourage compliance with PIPEDA. The proposed Privacy Code of Practice for Legal Apps will assist private app developers in ensuring that they are complying with their privacy obligations, and provide transparency to members of the public on how their privacy rights and interests are protected when using legal apps.


Project Title: The YADD Privacy Project: Improving Privacy for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities (YADD) through Research and Innovative Knowledge Translation
Organization:
York University
Project Leader: Nazilla Khanlou
Location:
Ontario
Funding Amount:
$ 49,979.00

Project Description: This project aims to improve privacy for young adults with developmental disabilities. The project team will conduct research and develop toolkits that will help guide young Canadians with developmental disabilities and the organizations that provide services to them. The toolkits will be tested during an interactive YADD Privacy Workshop with stakeholders and community partners. Once finalized, the report and toolkits will be published on the project’s website, along with a brief video to support knowledge translation in an accessible manner.


Project Title: Enfants sous écoute : La protection de la vie privée dans l’environnement des jouets intelligents [Children Under Surveillance: Protecting Privacy in a World Full of Smart Toys]
Organization: Option consommateurs
Project Leader: Maryse Guénette
Location:
Quebec
Funding Amount:
49,900.00 $

Project Description: This project by Option consommateurs aims to inventory and characterize smart toys available in Canada, explore the law applicable to these Internet-connected items, and analyze the confidentiality policies, user agreements, and informational content of a representative sample of smart toys available to Canadian consumers. Option consommateurs will also carry out a psychologist-directed test of children and hold semi-directed interviews with the parents of the children taking part in the controlled test.


Project Title: Dynamic Transparency: Applying Technologies to Assess Privacy Policies
Organization:
University of Toronto
Project Leader: Lisa Austin
Location:
Ontario
Funding Amount:
$ 49,010.00

Project Description: Traditional, static privacy policies are becoming obsolete in today’s digital world and may not provide sufficient transparency. As part of this research project, current technologies will be applied to assess the transparency of privacy policies by exploring how to transform a static privacy policy into a more dynamic digital form. The project findings will be outlined in a research paper.


Project Title: Balancing the Privacy Right of Research Participants with the Public Interest in Access to Clinical Drug Trials Data
Organization:
University of Toronto
Project Leader: Trudo Lemmens
Location:
Ontario
Funding Amount: 
$ 49,795.00

Project Description: This research project will explore the privacy issues related to access to clinical drug trial data. For this project, the researchers will conduct a literature review of relevant ethical, legal and social issues balancing the privacy of research participants with the broader public interest of promoting transparency in the drug development process. The project will also review existing laws and policies in Canada that apply to the collection, use and disclosure of information and data of research participants in clinical trials and the sharing of that data between stakeholders. The researchers will develop a comparative policy analysis of how the European Medicines Agency has handled the protection of privacy within its own transparency policies, and host a stakeholder workshop to establish key elements of a Canadian data transparency policy.


Project Title: Comprehensive Assessment Oversight Dialog: Canadian Ethical Data Review Boards Project
Organization: Information Accountability Foundation (IAF)
Project Leader: Martin Abrams
Location: Texas, USA
Funding Amount: $33,283.80 (CND)

Project Description: This research project sets out to create a dialog to forge a trustworthy and accessible consensus on oversight models. The objectives of this dialog are to look at three different oversight models (one in Canada, one in Europe and one in the UK), develop a consensus on best solutions for each model, and report findings. As part of this project, the researchers will seek to obtain a detailed understanding of the Ethical Data Review Board model in Canada that might be adopted via laws, implementing rules or industry best practices to enhance trust that data is being used in a legal, fair and just manner. A plenary session will be held with stakeholders to put forward recommendations on the Ethical Data Review Board model, followed by another session to discuss the other two oversight models to look at strengths and weaknesses of each. This project is a complement to the work previously funded under the 2016-17 Contributions Program.


Project Title: Back on the Data Trail: The Evolution of Canada’s Data Broker Industry
Organization:
Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
Project Leader: David Fewer
Location: Ontario
Funding Amount:
$ 46,000.00

Project Description: How has the Canadian data broker industry evolved over the last 10 years? The researchers will examine the state of the industry’s practices and identify problems in the interpretation and application of PIPEDA that could potentially be resolved through interpretation or amendment of the law. To improve public awareness of the data brokerage industry and how Canadians’ personal information is being collected, shared, and used,   a FAQ, podcast, and report of research findings will be published online. An interactive web page will also be developed to depict how personal information flows into the data broker market to give Canadians a more intuitive way of understanding the nature of the industry, the sources of its data, and the uses of such data.


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