Christopher Parsons, post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and managing director of the Telecom Transparency Project, spoke to Canada.com regarding how discussions around privacy shifted in 2014 and what to expect in 2015.
Parsons highlighted, among others, the revelations that Canada’s signals intelligence agency, Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), was involved in the mass domestic monitoring of communications data, which led to issues of privacy and surveillance being discussed publicly, as well as in the Senate and the House of Commons.
In the telecommunications industry, Parsons noted that there has been a change in the degree to which companies reveal how often government is requesting information. Companies like Rogers, Telus, TekSavvy and SaskTel are all releasing transparency reports for the first time, making clear that they are concerned with privacy, and as such they want to disclose to their customers how often information is requested by the government and, where possible, they have pushed back. As part of the Telecom Transparency Project, the Citizen Lab and the Digital Stewardship Initiative released the Access My Info tool, a web application that empowers Canadians to compel telecommunications service providers (TSPs) to explain their privacy policies and disclose what information they collect about subscribers, why it is collected and for how long, and to whom it has been disclosed. Read more about the tool’s background, design, and early findings.