Tag Archives: privacy

Geothink Student Twitter Chat on Location and Privacy on the Geoweb

Laura Garcia, PhD student at the University of Ottawa under Prof. Elizabeth Judge (University of Ottawa), recently conducted a Spanish language Twitter chat with students at Los Andes University.

Discussion revolved around privacy issues especially in location-based services on the Geoweb 2.0. Using the hashtag #locationmine, participants discussed how location is both ‘mine’ in the sense of being very personal and private information and a mine of data to be exploited. Protecting privacy requires education, laws, regulation, and maybe even changes to technologies (such as the creation of standards). We are in the midst of changes in the technological landscape that are already having an effect on the amount of privacy internet users can realistically have, and this will continue into the future. Not only is technology changing, our habits are also changing as well, resulting in many agreeing to terms of use without a proper examination or thought over the details. Locational privacy must be debated and defined as a response to changes in the ecosystem, to enable proper regulation and protection of rights.

Laura presented the discussants with five conclusions:

  1. One of the most important elements of the right to privacy is for the user to have control over the information shared and who has access this information
  2. It is not easy to find and/or remove the collection of geographic information made automatically by some technologies and companies. Therefore, in these cases the user does not have control over the collection of their locational information
  3. It is important for the users of the Geoweb to take an active role in the protection of their privacy
  4. Better regulations are needed. These need to be mandatory and unambiguous
  5. Civil society needs to advocate for its own rights and demand corporate social responsibility

View the chat transcript below.

Geothoughts 6: Who Stands to Gain in Canada’s Sharing Economy?

This July, Alberta residents were warned that drivers who use Uber’s car-sharing service may not have appropriate insurance coverage, with potential risks to both drivers and passengers.

This July, Alberta residents were warned that drivers who use Uber’s car-sharing service may not have appropriate insurance coverage, with potential risks to both drivers and passengers.

By Naomi Bloch

The rise of the web-enabled sharing economy is leading to much hope about potentially new sources of income and new ways for communities to connect and share resources. In the process, however, more consumers appear to be turning to global tech companies to acquire convenient, local services.

This July, Alberta residents were warned that drivers who use Uber’s car-sharing service may not have appropriate insurance coverage, with potential risks to both drivers and passengers. Earlier this month in Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo region, the local cab company Waterloo Taxi released its new mobile app. The company hopes the app will help it to maintain its edge against Uber, a recent—and not entirely legal—entry to the local marketplace. Meanwhile, starting this fall, Quebec will begin regulating the online home rental service Airbnb.

In this podcast, we interview Geothink co-applicant Leslie Regan Shade, associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. Together with PhD candidate Harrison Smith, Shade has been exploring the “cartographies of sharing,” situating the geoweb in the sharing economy of Canada. Shade is particularly interested in the political economic questions now surfacing in the media, in policy circles, and in academia. She and Smith are focusing on three inter-related questions:

  1. What is the state of the sharing economy in Canada, particularly with respect to the fundamental opportunities and challenges currently facing municipal regulators in Canada?
  2. What particular benefits and challenges has the sharing economy brought to Canadian economies, particularly key urban centres?
  3. How is the geoweb contributing to the rise of the sharing economy in Canada?

If you have thoughts or questions about this podcast, get in touch with Naomi Bloch, Geothink’s digital journalist, at naomi.bloch2@gmail.com.

Re-identification Risk and Proactive Disclosure of Data for Open Government: Lessons from the Supreme Court of Canada?

By Teresa Scassa

One of the challenges with the proactive disclosure of government data, and with open data more generally, is the obligation that governments have to not disclose personal information. This challenge is made more acute by the fact that the definition of “personal information” is, generally speaking, “information about an identifiable individual”.

Courts in Canada have said that identifiability is not considered solely in the context of the particular data set in question – information is personal information if it can lead to the identification of an individual when it is matched with information from virtually any other source.

The Supreme Court of Canada has just released a decision dealing with the issue of whether Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services was right to refuse to disclose information relating to the province’s sex offender registry. The concern in this case was that although the applicant sought only data about sex offenders living within the forward sortation areas, indicated by the first 3 letters of a postal code, this information could still be matched with other available information to specifically identify and locate individuals. Although the case deals with the province’s access to information regime, lessons can be extracted that are relevant to both the proactive disclosure of government information and to open data.

For more detail, see my blog post about this case, here: http://www.teresascassa.ca/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=159:re-identification-risk-and-proactive-disclosure-of-data-for-open-government-lessons-from-the-supreme-court-of-canada?&Itemid=80

Teresa Scassa University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law