Privacy Commissioner encourages Canadians to protect their online privacy, gives 5 simple tips

Ian Hardy

January 2, 2013 10:04 am


There’s no word yet on the number of new smartphone or tablets Canadians purchased this holiday season, but our Privacy Commissioner is wasting no time to ensure 2013 is a safe year. In a press release today, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, said that Canadians need to be “diligent in protecting their online privacy and personal information to avoid identity theft and fraud.” The Commissioner noted that we need to take “the time to consider the privacy risks” of the apps we download to our tablets or smartphones as personal info “can be easily collected and stored indefinitely.”

The Commissioner created “5 New Year’s resolutions” that will increase your online safety:

1. I will review my social network privacy settings regularly.
Always understand what you are sharing online and who can see it. Take the time to carefully review the privacy settings for each social network and application you are using.

2. I will think before I click!
Once you post online, it is very difficult to erase. Numerous new companies have appeared with the sole intent of “cleaning up” online histories. This is completely unnecessary if you proactively consider what you are posting online. Consider what a future employer or a scholarship funder might think of a post.

3. I will always consider the five W’s of personal information.
Who wants it and who will have access to it? Why do they want it? What will it be used for? Where will your information be stored? When will your information be used and when will it be discarded?

4. I will make my passwords unique.
With numerous programs circulating to break passwords, it is important to keep them difficult to decrypt, but also easy to remember. The addition of numbers, symbols, and capital letters will also help to ensure strong protection (i.e. Home7Mayzon$).

5. I will carefully read the fine print.
It is imperative that you understand the terms and conditions of any application or program before clicking agree.

Apart from the Privacy Commissioner encouraging Canadians to understand online safety, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) is also backing a safety initiative. Late last year they created the “Protect Your Data” initiative that gives tips to keep your wireless device, and your data, safe.

Source: CNW

  • JUST SAYING

    6- I will not buy an iPhone

  • Twosee

    RIP RIM!!!!! :D :D

    • STILL NO DATE

      Still no date for bb10

      Guaranteed they will say on Jan 30…..it’s coming soon

  • Keith

    The biggest steps one can make to protect their privacy is to avoid Facebook and anything Google.

    • Netguru

      Well certainly Google Search which, in the permissions, says it can take pictures/video and record audio without your knowledge. It can also access your contacts and send texts and e-mails, again without your knowledge, and make it appear that you sent them. That needs to change.

    • Tom

      Google has never sold or leaked any of their users’ info. They use it for personalized ads and that’s about the least of your concerns on the Internet now.

      Also, Google provides you tools to take away (and delete from Google) all your personal data.

      Consider Twitter for comparison… they sell their users to data to other companies, but don’t let users access that same data (the Globe had an article about this recently).

    • Tom

      Sorry, soon as I posted I realized my mistake: in the Buzz fiasco they ‘leaked’ users data. But that was corrected in a matter of days and was the only incident. It was bad, but not in comparison to fb or twitter.

    • Keith

      Google also sees fit to auto-enroll you into its services and take the liberty of exposing your contacts to other contacts when you had chosen not to.

  • Brad F, Brad F(anboy), jack

    You’re safe here as you can use any name you wish and remain anonymous. You can even use names of other users to troll.

  • zzZZzz

    First four points are fine, I usually take care of that. Last one, however, will probably take years of my life to read all the fine print. And if I do get to read it, most are so sketchy that I’ll end up not using any product.

  • Tom

    “2. I will think before I click!”

    That is the most important. Some of the others are unrealistic. It would take a lot of time to read the fine print of everything. How about instead:

    “I will read a few reviews of every app or product before I install/buy.”

  • deltatux

    #4 isn’t even a privacy rule of thumb, it’s a general computer best practice anyways. You should never use the same password for more than one account. While it’s hard, it’s not impossible and it’s worth it especially if you have important accounts that you can’t lose control of.

    People are just lazy, it’s not impossible.

  • S81

    Side question: anyone knows the name of the widget on the phone in the picture? The three circle thing with a display of the clock, battery and something else. Thanks!

  • StephenBB81

    While this is all well and good, users will continue give out personal information and leave their privacy lax for the sake of a few $$
    People will continue to use apps like WhatsApp which store your phone number on American servers which are subject to the ULTRA lax privacy laws.
    People will continue to use social media such as facebook, twitter, instagram and google+ for advertisers to know exactly the things to target you with and the best way to do so to entice a purchase.

    those interested in identity theft will be able to leave wifi spots open in public places which users of Android and iOS data hungry phones will gladly jump on for free wifi not considering what route their data takes

    As I am often told by social media junkies, “Nothing you do on the internet is private anymore, why should I care?”

  • Alex

    Pfffft, gimme a break…. expecting comsumers to examine the fine print of every program and app they install is flat out unrealistic.

    Only a lawyer would say that.