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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: A Privacy Code of Practice for the Connected Car
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Project Leader: Rajen Akalu
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: A Privacy Code of Practice for Legal Apps
University of Ottawa
Project Leader: Amy Salyzyn
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.


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