The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has announced the recipients of its 2012-13 Contributions Program, which will provide $500,000 this year for projects that explore emerging and evolving privacy issues of interest to Canadians.
This year’s projects touch on all four policy priorities of the OPC: 1) identity integrity and privacy; 2) information technology and privacy; 3) genetic information and privacy; and 4) public safety and privacy. For example, there are projects that focus on privacy issues related to social networking, cybercrime, surveillance, cloud computing, smartphone applications and cell therapy research.
“Technologies are advancing at an astounding rate, and it’s essential that we take time to both truly understand and reflect upon their impacts on privacy,” says Commissioner Stoddart.
“By supporting privacy research, my Office is encouraging the exploration of complex privacy issues as well as the development of information and tools to help Canadians make informed decisions about protecting their personal information.”
The Office announced the 2012-13 recipients yesterday at its Pathways to Privacy Research Symposium at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The Symposium is showcasing privacy-related research funded by OPC’s Contribution Program and other organizations to stimulate discussion and enable others to use and apply the research in their fields of expertise or areas interest.
The OPC is supporting a total of 11 projects in 2012-13 under the Contributions Program. This year, there is an emphasis on making the research outcomes accessible, and researchers will be using a variety of approaches, such as workshops, forums, web sites and tools, or awareness materials, to share the results of their work. Some examples of the projects include:
- A study of the privacy challenges emerging from innovations in cell therapy research;
- An analysis of the scope of voluntary information sharing by private enterprises in law enforcement investigations into cybercrime;
- The development of a series of in-depth news reports and other informational tools for French radio and web sites that provide practical information about protecting personal information;
- An interactive mapping tool to help Canadians better understand cloud computing and its impact on their personal information;
- An investigation of smartphone applications and the risks to end-user privacy.
- A report on the positive and negative privacy implications of using information technology in situations involving domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking.
A full list of the 2012-13 Contributions Program recipients and their projects is available on our web site.
The OPC received 45 proposals for the 2012-2013 Contributions Program. Each proposal was evaluated by representatives of the OPC, as well as an external peer review panel of privacy experts in various fields.
“It was wonderful to have the opportunity to review the interesting, innovative, and creative applications to the Contributions Program,” says Dr. Jacquelyn Burkell, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. “The research they outlined addresses complex aspects of privacy in our digital environment and will produce results that have important implications for Canadians.”
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman and guardian of privacy in Canada. The Commissioner enforces two federal laws for the protection of personal information: the Privacy Act, which applies to the federal public sector; and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which applies to commercial activities in the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Territories. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia each has its own law covering the private sector. Even in these provinces, PIPEDA continues to apply to the federally regulated private sector and to personal information in interprovincial and international transactions.