Canada Dashboard Digest

Many will have already heard the relatively big news this week: A new bill, S-4, was introduced in the Senate that will amend PIPEDA if it passes. I'm surprised it didn't actually get more news considering the fanfare when the government tabled it.

There is some skepticism about whether or not the government is serious this time around because it has introduced somewhat similar bills in the past only to let them die a slow and painful death. This new bill was introduced in the Senate, and some are speculating that this may have been done to try and get the bill passed quickly.

For sure, these amendments are a long time coming. Many of them are what I call “common-sense fixes." For example, getting the English and French versions of the law to jive with one another a bit better. Other more meaningful fixes are those that mirror the Alberta and British Columbia provisions dealing with employee personal information and business transactions.

The folks at the OPC are probably happy with the proposed amendments that will allow them to enter into compliance agreements with organizations. Essentially, these agreements will allow the OPC to monitor organizations for up to a year after the completion of an investigation to ensure that all recommendations are satisfactorily implemented.

Lastly, I think the codification of a breach notification scheme is a good thing, too. I don’t think this new scheme will have a significant impact because previous guidance from the federal commissioner has been clear that they expect notification to take place even without the codification in the law. So, I think most organizations have already been operating with this scheme in mind. But, getting clarity in any law is always a good thing, so I suppose it is in this case, too.

As far as the “new penalties” go, I again don’t think there’s too much to worry about. Before any penalty could be levied, a matter would have to be referred for criminal prosecution—something that probably won’t happen except in the most egregious cases. This is a far cry from the administrative monetary penalties that can be levied in some European jurisdictions directly by the data protection authority.

So, all in all, pretty good news for privacy in Canada—for some—this week. And when we also read that CRA employees were fired for privacy violations, perhaps privacy is something this government is realizing is a priority issue that people care about.

Kris Klein
Managing Director
IAPP Canada

Top Canadian Privacy News

SURVEILLANCE

As Use of Facial Recognition and Surveillance Increase, What Happens To Privacy? (April 30, 2012)

The Economist reports on the increasingly pervasive use of video surveillance in countries around the world. China will soon employ three million surveillance cameras--surpassing Britain--and its industry is expected to reach 500 billion yuan, or $79 billion, in 2015. Alongside the increase in video surveillance is an increase in the use of facial recognition technology, currently employed at Mexican prisons, U.S. bars, Japanese workplaces and many other locations worldwide. Brazilian police will use it to improve security at the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has found that such technology is improving, raising legal questions about the "reasonable expectation of privacy" in public, the report states. 
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Study: Your Privacy Depends on Your Friends (April 27, 2012)

The Atlantic reports that as social media grows, "it's increasingly more accurate to think about privacy as a communal affair, something heavily contextual and owned, collectively, by networks." The report references a case study from Brazil's University of Minas Gerais that indicates "just how much tagged photos, in particular--and our connections' tagged photos--can actually reveal, and predict, about our identities." The study's authors note that "Users unintentionally put their friends or even their own privacy at risk when performing actions on social networking sites...the tagged user has no means to control the degree of exposure her pictures are getting, since the 'owner' is another user."
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HEALTHCARE PRIVACY

Pharmacists Seek Injunction on Sale of Records (April 27, 2012)

Nine pharmacists are seeking an injunction to prevent Zellers from selling prescription records to grocery store chains as part of a sales agreement, the Toronto Star reports. They say the sale violates privacy laws. “These files don’t belong to me or anybody,” says pharmacist Prabhjot Dhanoa, owner of a Zellers in Brampton. “They’re patient files.” Zellers is countersuing the pharmacists, the report states, for allegedly interfering with the files’ transfer.
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

Is Big Data Revealing the Subconscious? (April 27, 2012)

In the “ocean” of data referred to as Big Data is a “frighteningly complete picture of you,” writes Dan Gardner for the Ottawa Citizen, adding that “With access to even a small portion of that data, corporations and governments can know far more about you than you might wish them to know.” The ability of companies to “find the hidden pattern, the unexpected correlation, the surprising connection” has increased productivity and may lead to great prosperity and significant advances--and could also mean that “Big Data could know us better than we know ourselves,” writes Gardner. “It could detect patterns of behaviour we are not aware of, and those patterns could reveal the unconscious thought processes that drive the behaviour.”
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Critics Say Terms of Service Allow for Lack of Privacy (April 27, 2012)

The New York Times reports on concerns about Google's recently released online storage service, Google Drive. The service offers free storage of documents, pictures and video, among other data, and critics say that under Google's “one-size-fits-all” terms of service, the company can use the stored content for its own purposes. A Google representative, however, said the company doesn't "take personal information and use it in a way that we don't represent to the user,” and the company’s terms state, “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold…In short, what belongs to you stays yours.” (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

Gov’t Employee Loses PII Bid in Court (April 27, 2012)

A federal tax auditor has lost her latest bid to keep her address and phone number away from a public union, the Ottawa Citizen reports. The government employee has been attempting to keep her information out of union hands since 1992, the report states, but the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the case, saying privacy protections have become better over the years. Justice John Evans said, “I would note that her complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner about the abuse of her personal information occurred 20 years ago, when privacy rights were less well protected than they are today.”
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Opinion: WCIT Meeting Could Upend Internet (April 26, 2012)

In a column for The Wall Street Journal, Andrea Renda writes that proposals will be considered this December at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) that could "grant authority for Internet governance to the United Nations and impose new regulations on web traffic," adding, "If adopted, these proposals could upend the web as we know it..." Renda also notes, "Privacy and security are also at risk due to a lack of adequate legal tools and coordination mechanisms," many of which would be international. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Facebook Privacy Tool To Help Consumers, Push Developers (April 24, 2012)

USA TODAY reports on the release of a new service that grades how each of Facebook's top third-party apps respects consumer privacy. Privacyscore for Facebook grades the privacy policies and tracking practices of more than 200 Facebook apps, the report states. Points are deducted for "sharing data with an excessive number of tracking entities, failing to honor deletion requests, failing to provide an opt-out choice or storing consumer data for long periods." The Future of Privacy Forum's Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US, said the tool will be useful for consumers, but "it may actually be even more useful in pushing application developers, who don't like getting poor grades, to look more closely at their own privacy practices."
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PRIVACY LAW

Supreme Court Overrules Wiretap Exception (April 20, 2012)

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that police wiretapping without a warrant is unconstitutional because the method does not contain a provision to notify suspects they are under surveillance, The Globe and Mail reports. The court did uphold a provision allowing warrantless wiretapping in emergency cases such as bomb threats or hostage situations. According to the judgment, requiring notification will “enhance the ability of targeted individuals to identify and challenge invasions to their privacy and seek meaningful remedies.” Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said the culmination of several Canadian and U.S. bills--including Bills C-12 and C-30 and the U.S. Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act--and the recent cross-border partnership between both nations “is likely to have serious implications for Canadian civil liberties.”
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HEALTHCARE PRIVACY

Researchers Seek Access to Medical Data (April 20, 2012)

Recent calls by medical researchers and BC government officials to open up the province’s healthcare database are being met with trepidation by civil libertarians and the BC information and privacy commissioner, The Globe and Mail reports. Health researchers say giving them access to the data could lead to medical advances and cost savings. Minister of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government Margaret MacDiarmid says, “It’s a matter of finding a way to move this forward…We need to get the conversation going.” In a statement this week, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said, “We must ensure robust measures are in place to protect personal information where data is used.” Editor’s Note: Commissioner Denham will participate in the Fireside Chat at the upcoming IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium.
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DATA PROTECTION

Commissioner: “Accountability Is the Bedrock” (April 19, 2012)

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and two provincial privacy commissioners have together released guidance aiming to help private-sector organizations build privacy management programs, according to a press release. "Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program" advises businesses and organizations to take data protection seriously--especially as data collection and management becomes more pervasive--and aims to assure Canadian businesses that there is consistency among commissioners' expectations. British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said, based on what commissioners see in their investigations, it's necessary to outline the basics of privacy management. Stoddart noted that accountability is the bedrock of Canadian privacy law.
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Berners-Lee: “Demand Your Data” (April 19, 2012)

World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee has urged Internet users to demand their personal data from web companies in order to help begin a new era of customized computer services, reports The Guardian. He says consumers have not fully realized the value of their personal data held by online companies. "My computer has a great understanding of the state of my fitness," Berners-Lee said, "of the things I'm eating, of the places I'm at." By taking advantage of such personalized data, services "with tremendous potential to help humanity" could be created, but only if web companies allow users access to their data.
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PRIVACY

Data Collection Coverage Gets Pulitzer Nod (April 17, 2012)

For its coverage of personal privacy issues, The Wall Street Journal was nominated as a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners in the Explanatory Reporting category for its "What They Know" series. In a press release from Pulitzer, The Wall Street Journal staff was included as a finalist "for its tenacious exploration of how personal information is harvested from cellphones and computers of unsuspecting Americans by corporations and public officials in a largely unmonitored realm of modern life." (Registration may be required to access to this story.)
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PRIVACY

Site’s Security Prompt Incites Concerns (April 16, 2012)

The Telegraph reports that a new security verification feature currently being tested by Google is raising concerns among some privacy advocates. The new feature asks users to verify their account by typing in house numbers taken from Google's Street View images. Since the house number images are blurry, the security check can filter out bots, the report states, but the data entry--checked against entries from other users--also verifies Street View data for the company. Big Brother Watch's Nick Pickles said, "There is a serious privacy issue with identifying the individual number of people's homes." A company spokesman said the security feature is only used about 10 percent of the time and that there are no security risks in the practice.
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PRIVACY LAW

Student’s Lawsuit Contests Border Policies (April 13, 2012)

A U.S. federal judge has yet to rule on the request for dismissal of a case involving a McGill University student who was detained at the U.S. border and had personal belongings--including his laptop--searched, The Canadian Press reports. The suit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor in 2010 by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union. Abidor's laptop was confiscated during the search, and when it "was returned 11 days later, there was evidence that many of his personal files...had been opened," the report states. A U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesman has said the department "has been transparent" about such searches and they are used on a limited basis.
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

Toronto Police Chief Wants Database Too (April 13, 2012)

As U.S. authorities devise plans to discourage smartphone thefts, Canadian authorities say similar measures are needed there, the Toronto Star reports. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have announced plans for a database that will store stolen cell phones unique ID numbers so that they may be disabled after a theft, rendering them useless to thieves. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, a member of the North American Association of Police Chiefs backing the database, says similar measures are needed in Toronto. A spokesman for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association said such plans have not been discussed and noted that such a database would raise privacy concerns.
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

RIM Says Indian Gov’t Now Has Access to Messages (April 13, 2012)

Blackberry maker Research in Motion says government security agencies in India now can access private instant messages. Though the government technically gained access to the encrypted data in February, a technical glitch kept the messages private. That glitch has since been resolved. The government had threatened to ban Blackberry service in the country if it was not granted access to the messages for security purposes. Experts say the change could lead to similar situations in countries around the world, the Toronto Star reports. "Once a company does it for one country, what's stopping other countries from asking for it?" said one.
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Debt Collectors, Employers, Others Watching Your Posts (April 13, 2012)

The Globe and Mail reports that when it comes to posting on social networking sites, "it's not just our friends who are keeping up with what we're doing online." The report looks at the array of "others"--from debt collectors to potential employers and attorneys--who are able to discern "much more than you'd want them to" by watching those Facebook posts that are public or shared with networks. "Unfortunately, many of us fail to realize that content we post on the Internet is really out there in the public domain," the report states, cautioning, "There's really nowhere to hide on the World Wide Web."
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

Visa Says Fraud Warnings Are Unfounded (April 13, 2012)

Visa Canada says recent concerns raised by police about "electronic pick-pocketing" are unfounded, North Shore News reports. North Vancouver RCMP warned residents to protect their chip-embedded credit cards in a release earlier this month, warning that "By simply walking past you, a person with a card reader acquires your credit card number, expiration date and more." But Visa Canada says no such incident has ever been reported, and cards can't be read from a significant distance. Additionally, only the card number and expiration date could be captured, not an individual's personal information. "We just don't see it happening," said a spokesman.
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PRIVACY LAW

Facebook Denies Legitimacy of Class-Action Suit (April 13, 2012)

Facebook says it will defend itself vigorously against a privacy lawsuit filed in BC Supreme Court. The suit alleges that the company's practice of "equating a Facebook 'like' with permission to use a person's name and photo" in "sponsored stories," which appear on their friends pages as advertisements, violates user privacy because there is no opt-out provision provided. A law firm is now gathering potential plaintiffs in the class-action, filed last week. "The first thing we are asking them to do is stop doing that," said the lawyer representing the case. The suit seeks an injunction and damages. BC's privacy commissioner has not begun an investigation but has the power to do so.
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DATA PROTECTION

Experts: Human Error More Likely Than A Hack (April 13, 2012)

Canadian Underwriter reports that human error due to carelessness with unencrypted work data is more common than a hacker's success when it comes to breaches, noted a panel of experts at a recent event to discuss the topic. Companies are still too casual about handling sensitive information, one expert said, while another panelist noted companies must do a better job of creating a "climate of security" when it comes to data. Encrypting data is crucial, noted another expert, especially when it comes to victims proving in court that they have been "harmed" as a result of a breach. "Sometimes it might be unclear as to whether the information could be used in a harmful way," the expert said, "but I would say that whether or not the data has been encrypted is a very, very important consideration."
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

Opinion: Concerns Raised About ICM Project (April 13, 2012)

An editorial in The Victoria Times Colonist raises concerns about a new computer project that will aggregate data the BC government holds on citizens into one profile. The Integrated Case Management system, deployed by the Social Development Ministry, will combine data--including ages, addresses, birth dates and ID numbers--from various databases to create a "holistic view of each citizen," the report states, adding, "The privacy concerns are obvious." But, in response to the editorial, BC Minister of Social Development Victoria Stephanie Cadieux said, "The system takes only information that has been regularly collected for decades," and the BC privacy commissioner "has been involved at every stage of the development."
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HEALTHCARE PRIVACY

Privacy Director Eliminated, Commissioner Concerned (April 13, 2012)

Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner Gary Dickson is concerned with a recent change at Saskatoon Health Region, The StarPhoenix reports. The organization has eliminated its director of privacy and compliance, who reported to a superior one step away from the CEO. The model was an excellent one for other organizations to follow, Dickson said, adding, it's important to have privacy officers reporting to top-level officials because, otherwise, "sometimes the advice that needs to get to the people ultimately responsible for an organization tend to get filtered out, diluted or just aren't clearly presented." Editor's note: To see where the majority of privacy management functions reside in relation to the organization's top management, view the IAPP 2012 Privacy Professionals Role, Function and Salary Survey. (IAPP member login required.)
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Facebook Offering “More Disclosure” About Data Storage (April 13, 2012)
The New York Times reports that in an attempt "to address criticism of the social network's privacy practices," Facebook has said it will give users "an expanded, downloadable archive of the many types of data on individuals that the company stores and tracks." The announcement came in the form of a post on Facebook's privacy blog that indicated the site would expand its "Download Your Information" archive. Max Schrems, a law student who has challenged Facebook's data collection practices in the EU, responded, "We welcome that Facebook users are now getting more access to their data, but Facebook is still not in line with the European Data Protection Law." (Registration may be required to access this story.)

PRIVACY LAW—CANADA

Commissioner: Breach Notification Should Be Mandatory (April 12, 2012)

BC Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wants private businesses to be required to report privacy breaches. BC needs to amend its Personal Information Protection Act, Denham told CBC News, or watch the province fall behind other jurisdictions. Breaches have reached "epidemic" proportions there, she says, adding that her office investigated 500 cases last year in the private and public sectors, and often times her office found out about the breaches as a result of media reports. "I would like to get a commitment from government--but I know that they are looking at it," Denham said.
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Privacy Concerns Raised by Facebook-Instagram Merger (April 10, 2012)

After yesterday's announcement that Facebook has acquired Instagram, several privacy advocates and users are worried the merger will create new privacy issues, CNET News reports. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a pledge yesterday that the company would not "integrate everything." Stanford University Center for Internet and Society Researcher Ryan Calo said, "The larger issue for me is that Facebook is adding Instagram data to its own...I picture the consumer happily paddling down a data rivulet only to find themselves suddenly on the open waters of the social sea." Instagram's privacy policy does not indicate what happens in an acquisition, but the Center for Democracy & Technology's Justin Brookman said, even after the merger, users who "signed up under certain, privacy-protective terms" still have valid protections, but "for new data posted to Instagram, Facebook can set new terms."
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PRIVACY LAW

Class-Action Suit Filed Against Social Network (April 6, 2012)

Postmedia News reports on a BC entrepreneur's class-action lawsuit against Facebook, which alleges the social network's "sponsored stories" constitute a breach of privacy laws. Deborah Douez filed the suit in BC Supreme Court "on behalf of all BC residents who are Facebook members and whose name or portrait has been used by Facebook in a 'sponsored story' without their consent," the report states. The notice of claim alleges the use of names or photos without consent is "outrageous, wanton, reckless, callous, disgraceful, wilful and entirely without care for the plaintiffs and class members' statutory right to control the use of their own names or portraits," and seeks punitive damages from Facebook.
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Stoddart: Canadians Care About Privacy (April 6, 2012)

In a Postmedia News report, Misty Harris writes about the scarcity of privacy in the digital sphere, suggesting, "it's less a question of whether we're being tracked but rather how and by whom." Harris highlights the move toward electronic passports and "a growing number of national headlines...giving Canadians pause about their privacy." In her response to the report, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart encourages "Canadians to make informed choices about their privacy when they go online and to speak up when they see something they don't like," adding, "I am heartened that, while concepts of privacy are evolving, it's also clear that Canadians continue to value their privacy."
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PRIVACY LAW

Commissioner Investigating Police Campaign (April 6, 2012)

Alberta Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton is investigating a "controversial campaign the Edmonton Police Service has been running to track down Edmontonians with outstanding warrants," CTV reports. In the wake of an incident where a 16-year-old girl was identified on a public website without permission from a judge, the report notes that while Clayton "cannot focus on why the photos were disclosed because she does not have jurisdiction to look at disclosure of information under the Youth Criminal Justice Act," she will "investigate Project 'OWE' to ensure it is compliant with the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act."
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INFORMATION ACCESS

Grievance Filed Over Release of Research Docs (April 6, 2012)

A University of Ottawa professor has filed a grievance over the school's release of documents containing his personal information, Postmedia News reports. Prof. Amir Attaran says University Vice President of Governance Diane Davidson's decision to release his research-related documents to the provincial information and privacy commissioner "is disappointing." "The defence of confidential information, within the limits prescribed by law, is a cornerstone of the academic freedom to conduct research," Attaran says in his grievance. He is asking the university to halt turnover of the records.
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CHILDREN’S PRIVACY

Opinion: Teens Need Social Networking Education (April 6, 2012)

In a column for The Ottawa Citizen, Shelley Page cautions parents to discuss with their teens the reality that those angry breakup words, ill-advised photos and mushy proclamations of love--while perhaps posted during a momentary flash of emotion--will live on indefinitely in the social networking sphere. "Many parents think Facebook is harmless fun. Lots of times, it is. But it's also where a lot of teens admit to being 'totally wasted...too drunk to walk' and where name-calling and bullying occurs, in capital letters," Page writes, urging parents to educate their children and teens and remind them, "What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook. Forever."
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ONLINE PRIVACY

The Search Engine That Could, Without Targeted Ads (April 6, 2012)

A small search engine startup is going mainstream following a growth rate of 1,000 percent in a year, The Toronto Star reports. The company's claim to fame? It's privacy policy, which states that the company does not pass on users' search queries to advertisers. The company's founder, who started the business from his basement in 2008, said a conversation with users in 2009 revealed that "it was the right thing to do," the report states. "For a couple of reasons, I could agree with the idea that search is relatively personal. It's creepy to have the search engine tracking you," he said.
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SOCIAL NETWORKING—CANADA

Commissioner Releases Facebook Probe Results (April 5, 2012)
Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart on Wednesday released results from three investigations into complaints filed about Facebook, The Canadian Press reports. Stoddart said the site has made improvements in some areas but needs to build privacy in from the beginning when introducing new features, according to an Office of the Privacy Commissioner press release. Stoddart said that the company is "providing clearer, more understandable information to members on various personal information handling practices," but added, "Despite these general improvements, we were disappointed that Facebook hadn't anticipated the widespread privacy concerns that followed the launch of its 'friend suggestion' feature."

FINANCIAL PRIVACY

Opinion: “Cashless Society” Will Need Privacy Provisions (April 5, 2012)

In a feature for The New York Times, George Mason University Senior Research Fellow Jerry Brito writes of Canada's move to eliminate the penny in coin form, suggesting it is "almost inevitable that digital money will soon replace not just the penny, but all physical money--in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere." While that makes sense in terms of costs and efficiency, he notes, "when it comes to privacy and freedom, cash can't be beat." In the move toward a "cashless society," Brito writes, "preserving some untraceable payment method" is necessary to "defend consumers' privacy and limit the power of government and businesses." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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MOBILE PRIVACY

Study: Majority Use Geolocation, Privacy Concerns Persist (April 4, 2012)

IDG News reports on a study revealing that nearly 60 percent of smartphone users acquire geolocation apps even while the respondents expressed privacy and safety concerns. Conducted by ISACA, the study polled 1,000 smartphone users. Some of the largest concerns for the users, according to the report, are advertisers' access to their data and possible risks to their personal safety. A representative from the Center for Democracy & Technology said, "If you think about it, most of us have one location where we spend our daytime hours at work and one location where we spend our nighttime at home, so after just a day or two of these data points, it's fairly obvious who they describe." Meanwhile, TRUSTe is releasing a new tool to help mobile companies target smartphone users while also allowing users to opt out of in-app advertising.
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PRIVACY LAW—CANADA & U.S.

Officials: U.S. Laws Too Weak for Border Deal (April 3, 2012)
Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and her provincial counterparts have issued a warning that a new border security deal with the United States could breach Canadian citizens' privacy, The Chronicle Herald reports. The deal could result in Canadians' private data being secretly shared with the U.S. or could see it "fall under the control of a foreign jurisdiction," the report states. The deal, announced by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama last year, would see an increase in sharing of security details. But Canadian privacy officials say data stored on U.S. servers would be at risk because some U.S. privacy laws are weaker than those in Canada.

GEO PRIVACY

App Creator Defends “Girls Around Me” (April 2, 2012)

The Wall Street Journal reports that the developer of a mobile app that employs publicly available information from two social networks to give users the locations of women in their vicinity "defended its intentions Saturday after drawing a firestorm of criticism over privacy concerns." Over the weekend, one of the networks the app relies on for data cut off its access, the report states, citing violation of its policies on "aggregating information across venues." "Girls Around Me" app developer i-Free Innovations said it is "unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns. We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps' goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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BIOMETRICS

The Rise of Voice Recognition Technology (April 2, 2012)

The New York Times reports on voice recognition technology developed by Nuance Communications. Going beyond dictation, the new technology can extract meaning from and respond to human voice commands and, in addition to computers, could be featured in common household appliances. Privacy advocates worry that the biometric identifier will leave a digital trail for more data mining. The company says its system recognizes individuals' voices by unique codes, not by consumers' names, and its privacy policy states that it only uses consumers' voice data to improve its internal systems. The FTC's David Vladeck said, "Just as we are concerned about the possible applications of facial recognition, there are other forms of biometric identification, like voice, that pose the same kind of problems." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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