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Privacy Commissioner of Canada awards $406,923 for research and public awareness projects

Ottawa, June 23, 2008 —The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, today announced that nine organizations will be awarded a total of $406,923 through her Office’s Contributions Program for research into privacy issues and to encourage the advancement of privacy rights.

“Technology, security, and consumer expectations are all having huge impacts on how society makes use of private information, and the implications for individual privacy are significant,” says Commissioner Stoddart. “To keep pace, it is essential that Canadians continue to advance knowledge and policies on privacy issues.”

This year, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) invited proposals focusing on four priority issues: national security; identity integrity; information technology; and genetic privacy and bio-banking. For the first time ever, the Contributions Program also solicited proposals for innovative public education, outreach and awareness raising initiatives.

The projects that are receiving funding cover a wide range of privacy issues—from surveillance and children online to the spread of genetic information. This year, four of the projects will focus on building awareness of privacy issues. “Educating the public is key,” notes Ms. Stoddart. “Canadians need information so that they can make smart choices that will help them retain control over their personal information.”

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner launched its Contributions Program in mid-2004 to support non-profit research that furthers the development of a national research capacity in Canada. Since that time, the program has expanded its scope to provide funding for public education and outreach, and allocated over $1.5 million for more than 40 projects in Canada. In some instances, the results of these projects have helped to influence policy or provoke debate, or have attracted national and international attention. The Office has also set aside funds under the Contributions Program to support collaborative research and policy development work with provincial and territorial information and privacy commissioners’ offices.

"I applaud this very important initiative of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada . This research and awareness work is timely, relevant and very important to all Canadians as we move forward in a world where the notion and protection of privacy is becoming increasingly complex and challenging,” says Ed Ring, Information and Privacy Commissioner for Newfoundland and Labrador. “The OPC is a leader in advancing privacy research and policy, and is an inspiration for access to information and privacy jurisdictions across the country."

Following are some brief details on the nine projects the Office of the Privacy Commissioner will be funding this year:

Funded Projects

Organization Project Amount
Queen’s University Camera Surveillance in Canada: Current Trends $50,000
British Columbia Institute of Technology Privacy Protection Checkups: Promoting Compliance and Providing Education for Business and Nonprofit Organizations $50,000
Association sur l’accès et la protection de l’information (AAPI) ”Warning! Personal Information in Circulation!”: An Interactive Website and Public Education Tour $45,525
Queen’s University Personas : Beyond Identity Protection by Information Control $20,000
University of Alberta Privacy Games: The Vancouver Olympics, Privacy and Surveillance $49,565
Media Awareness Network Kids for Sale: Online Privacy and Marketing $40,833
Memorial University Threats to Mobile Phone Users’ Privacy: Who, How and How to Face? $49,000
University of Toronto Privacy and Access to Genetic Research Data $50,000
Crime Prevention Society of Nova Scotia (CPSNS) Trying to Get the Message Out: Identity Theft Awareness $50,000

The call for proposals for this year’s program was issued in January 2008. Each proposal was weighed on its merit and recipients were selected after a rigorous screening process. These projects are expected to be completed in 2009.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy rights of Canada.

For more details about this year’s projects, please see our Backgrounder.

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For more information and/or media interview requests, contact:

Heather Ormerod
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 995-1048

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