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Privacy Commissioner awards $27,390 to the University of Victoria for a study into the privacy impact of geographic location technologies

Ottawa, January 27, 2005 – The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, is pleased to announce that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is awarding $27,390, under its Contributions Program, to the University Of Victoria Department of Political Science for a study of the privacy implications of geographic location technologies used in Canada.

"Location based services are increasingly being integrated into everyday life through increased mobility and the rising emphasis on just-in-time delivery and efficiency," said Ms. Stoddart. "Thousands of Canadians employed in the mobile workforce are potentially under constant surveillance by their employers," she said.

The project will look at the potential privacy issues surrounding the possible Canadian implementation of geographic location devices in cell phones to enhance 911 emergency services and identify these and other emerging location technologies that are in use in Canada, and comment on their privacy risks. An analysis of the most serious privacy implications will also include recommendations for addressing the risks through federal or provincial legislation.

"I am very grateful for this support, and congratulate the Office of the Privacy Commissioner on this important initiative.  The funds will assist ongoing research on the privacy implications of location-based services.  I am hopeful that the resulting report can directly assist the Privacy Commissioner in the analysis of the risks associated with these emerging technologies," says Dr. Colin Bennett, Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria.

Examples of commercial uses of location technology include trucking fleet operators, taxis, and courier and delivery services. Several car rental agencies have also installed GPS locating devices.

The geographic location technologies study is funded from the OPC's Contributions Program, launched in June 2004, to foster and develop Canada's national capacity for research into privacy issues and emerging technologies. The project is one of 10 research initiatives funded by the OPC.

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For more information, please contact:

Renée Couturier
Director, Public Education and Communications
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 995-0103

Dr. Colin Bennett
Department of Political Science
University of Victoria
Tel: (250) 721-7495

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