Young Canadians are facing a host of privacy risks that previous generations never had to worry about – from “nanny cams” to cell phone monitoring to a permanent trail of their online communications, says the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Youth privacy issues have emerged as a significant concern and are highlighted in the Commissioner’s 2011 Annual Report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s federal private-sector privacy law. The report was tabled in Parliament today.
“While the young show agility in using any new kind of digital communication, and recognize the importance of protecting their privacy, they are also often unsuspecting about the potential privacy intrusions that can accompany novel technologies,” says Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.
“All of that online communication creates a permanent record – and that could carry risks to their privacy and to their reputations. Not just today, but perhaps even more in the future.”
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has made youth issues a major focus of its outreach and public education initiatives. The OPC has developed a number of education materials, including presentation packages for school and community use, a teen-oriented video and a tip sheet for parents.
Today, the Privacy Commissioner is also launching another important tool – a graphic novel called Social Smarts: Privacy, the Internet and You, which will help younger Canadians to understand and navigate privacy issues in the online world.
“This graphic novel – a first for our Office – was developed with feedback from youth. We hope it will help young people to understand the risks to privacy when it comes to social networking, gaming and texting,” says Commissioner Stoddart.
The new graphic novel can be downloaded from the OPC’s youth website.
The annual report also describes an OPC investigation into a complaint about a daycare’s use of webcam monitoring. A parent objected to the fact that the webcam feed was being recorded and felt that appropriate privacy safeguards were not in place.
The annual report also details findings related to investigations of three complaints against Facebook, as well as a wide-ranging complaint against a youth-oriented social networking site, Nexopia. The investigation results were announced earlier this year.
The OPC accepted 281 formal complaints under PIPEDA in 2011, a 35 percent increase from the previous year.