Research

Contributions Program: Privacy Research and Related Knowledge Translation Initiatives Funded by the OPC

Contributions Program 2010-2011

Project Descriptions

The following is a brief description of funded projects:

Organization: University of Victoria, Informational Privacy Interdisciplinary Research Group
Location: British Columbia
Funding amount: $46,250.00
Project title: Privacy Risks and Mitigation in Consumer Health Informatics Products                                         
Project description: This project proposes to assess a wide variety of Health 2.0 tools available internationally online, such as personal health records and patient web sites that collect personal information.  It also promises to examine the various certification and licensing programs that have been developed. Researchers propose to: (1) establish a comprehensive taxonomy of “consumer health informatics” platforms, applications and services; (2) assess the privacy risks associated with these products; (3) devise and evaluate measurements for mitigating these risks; and (4) evaluate certifications for consumer health information products and identify improvement opportunities towards developing policy in this area.

Organization: Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $16,008.00
Project title: Targeted Online Advertising and Privacy
Project description: This project proposes to investigate the field of targeted advertising from the experiences of different stakeholders (advertisers, publishers, consumers) and through two lenses (the marketer looking to find more effective promotion mechanisms and the privacy advocate concerned about the potential harm of technologically-enabled targeting).  One objective of this research is to develop a taxonomy that takes into account the perspectives of all stakeholder groups and includes the impact of the online advertising method on privacy.  Other objectives are to explore conceptual aspects of privacy with online advertising (e.g. privacy as anonymity and privacy as personal information) and contribute to establishing a common frame of reference for marketers and privacy advocates.

Organization: Option Consommateurs
Location: Quebec
Funding amount: $27,550.00
Project title: Information Guide and Workshops on Credit Reports
Project description: Option Consommateurs (OC) plans to improve awareness amongst Canadian consumers of the collection and use of personal information found in credit reports. They will develop an information guide and offer workshops on credit reports for consumers.

Organization: Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $50,000.00
Project title: Consumers Anonymous? The Privacy Risks of De-identified and Aggregated Consumer Data
Project description: PIAC will look at organizational privacy policies and practices with respect to the de-identification of consumer personal information and the aggregation of non-personal information, focusing on current industry practices and projected trends.  This project will study the privacy risks associated with the de-identification and likelihood of re-identifying non-personal information as well as the functional harms of using aggregate data to sort consumers.   This research will identify gaps in privacy legislation and provide recommendations to bridge this gap to better protect consumer privacy.

Organization: York Centre for Public Policy and Law
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $49,330.00
Project title: Privacy Rights Mobilization Among Marginal Groups:  Fulfilling the Mandate of PIPEDA
Project description: The project aims to further understanding of how individuals from marginal groups in Canada are aware of their right to privacy and the protections the Office of the Privacy Commissioner offers, and how their awareness affects their privacy rights mobilization. It will look at three groups (seniors with cell phones, young individuals aged 18-24 on social networks, and new immigrants affected by national security programs) to map their legal consciousness with regard to what privacy rights mean to them and how this affects their mobilization rights.

Organization: University of Toronto
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $48,000.00
Project title: A Privacy Protective "Proportionate ID Digital Wallet" for Canadians: Open Prototyping and Public Policy Alternatives
Project description: Researchers at the University of Toronto propose to demonstrate the value of a digital device (“mobile wallet”) as a privacy-protective alternative to current identification. They propose a digital wallet device that supports selective disclosure along with verification of the party requesting the identity information. The architecture is based on “U-Prove” technology from Credentica. They plan to: develop scenarios for everyday use; survey related work in this domain; create digital wallet prototypes (using a fabrication workshop and Arduino technology); hold workshops and forums on this topic to engage with stakeholders; and disseminate the results through video, the web, and research papers.

Organization: McGill University, Department of Genomics and Policy
Location: Quebec
Funding amount: $50,000.00
Project title: Privacy in Canadian Paediatric Biobanks: A Changing Landscape
Project description: This project will look at ethical issues regarding privacy and confidentiality in paediatric (children's) biobanks. The project will consist of a literature review; a review of related policies governing paediatric biobanks in four countries; and an analysis of the provincial privacy legislation. The deliverables will include a discussion document, recommendations and a short form pamphlet that will be prepared in both French and English for distribution to research ethics boards (REBS) across Canada.

Organization: Queens University, Surveillance Studies Centre
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $50,000.00
Project title: The Private Sector, National Security and Personal Data
Project description: This exploratory study will examine the role of the private sector in Canadian national security programs at the border and in airports.  The study will focus on the increasing interchange of data between government and commercial organizations.  Researchers will first conduct an inventory of private firms involved in border and airport security operations, then assess the privacy issues raised by mapping the quantity and types of personal information being collected and shared. 

Organization: Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $40,500.00
Project title: When Your Friendly Service Provider Becomes an Agent of the State: The Effective Privatization of State Investigations
Project description: Researchers will examine developments in investigative techniques that hinge on private-sector information collection, and look at new tools by which police use private sector information sources and consider the privacy implications of these new approaches – with a particular focus on ISPs and online services like webmail and social network sites.  As well, they will assess the implications of Bill C-46 / 47 to mandatory data disclosure, report on ISP data repositories, and explore details of investigative techniques and the extent of their deployment by police. Finally, they will organize stakeholder meetings to report on findings and build an FAQ for public reference alongside the final publication of the report.

Organization: University of Toronto
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $50,000.00
Project title: "Smart" Private Eyes in Public Places? Video Surveillance Analytics, New Privacy Threats and Protective Alternatives
Project description: This research proposes to examine the use of video analytics ("smart" processing) in the area of video surveillance. The research will review state-of-the-art video analytics technologies, and assess a privacy protection scheme developed by the university in laboratory. Researchers also plan to survey businesses in the Toronto area that are using video surveillance, and to assess compliance with PIPEDA for video records that should be available under the Individual Access Principle. The results will be shared in a report and public forum.

Organization: Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $34,787.00
Project title: Privacy as a Risk Management Challenge for Corporate Practice
Project description: This project aims to evaluate the current state of corporate practice in implementing a risk-based approach to privacy management. Specifically, the research team will look at organizations that collect large amounts of personal information (of varying degrees of sensitivity) and evaluate how privacy considerations are reflected in their enterprise risk management regimes.

Organization: University of Victoria
Location: British Columbia
Funding amount: $46,250.00
Project title: First Nations and Electronic Health Record Systems
Project description: Aboriginal claims of sovereignty and self-determination with respect to information management have been difficult to reconcile with mainstream privacy laws.  The objectives of this research are to explain the concept of communal privacy; assess existing efforts to reconcile communal privacy and existing privacy laws; and suggest methods and tools to help this reconciliation.

Organization: Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management
Location: Ontario
Funding amount: $11,615.00
Project title: Incorporating Privacy into the Smart Grid
Project description: The researchers propose to provide greater understanding of the privacy implications of Smart Grid initiatives in Canada, through in-depth interviews with utility executives and privacy regulators. Questions will focus on how personal information is collected and disclosed by utilities, and whether the personal information handling practices (currently in use and proposed) are compliant with PIPEDA.


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For more information, contact:

François Cadieux
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 947-3090
Email: francois.cadieux@priv.gc.ca