“Less is more” when sharing personal information online says Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. The Commissioner is delivering this message as part of her Office’s countdown to Data Privacy Day, which is marked annually by organizations around the world on January 28th.
“We are living in a digital age, where our online activities can easily be tracked, stored, shared and analyzed, and we are under constant pressure to share more personal information,” notes the Commissioner. “But given the power and complexity of today’s technologies, we should all be thinking less is more when it comes to sharing personal information on the Internet.”
Canadians are the world’s biggest Internet users, logging an average of 43.5 hours of online browsing per month, almost twice the global average, according to a recent global ComScore report on Internet use and online trends. However, many do not fully understand the implications this has for their privacy. Once their personal information is on the Internet, they have very little control over who sees it, how it is used, or how long it will be available.
“By sharing less personal information, we can help limit our exposure and the risks of our personal information being misused, abused or disclosed without consent.”
So, whether we are social networking, using an app on a mobile device, or signing up for discounts and deals, we need to think carefully about the personal information we are putting into cyberspace.
“Less is more” is also good advice for businesses and organizations that collect personal information notes Commissioner Stoddart. “Collecting and holding excess data raises the risks for your customers, but it is also costly for your business,” she warns. “It increases your risk of data breaches—which can be damaging to your reputation and expensive to clean up.”
This week, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada joins governments, privacy professionals, corporations, academics and students from around the world, in marking Data Privacy Day, an annual international celebration designed to promote awareness about privacy and education about best privacy practices.
In support of Data Privacy Day, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada will be engaging in a number of activities in the week to leading up to January 28, such as the launch of some new youth privacy tools, and presentations to youth, public servants, businesses and staff. The Office has also produced some new resources, such as posters and graphics which can be used to raise awareness of privacy in any organization.
Three new tools to help young Internet users protect their privacy during a presentation by Commissioner Stoddart to students at Ottawa’s Hopewell Avenue Public School on Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
The Internet has become one of the most powerful tools kids have to connect with friends and make new ones. But the online world is a complex and rapidly evolving environment, and many kids don’t fully understand the impact that some of their activities may have on their privacy.
The new tools are designed to help teachers and parents communicate with young people about the privacy risks associated with online activities. These new tools build on the work the Office has been doing to educate youth about online privacy issues and encourage them to take steps to protect their personal information.