Open Effect, a non-profit organization headed by Citizen Lab Research Fellow Andrew Hilts, has been awarded funding from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). CIRA provided funds as part of its Community Investment Program, selecting 25 non-profit organizations which work on Internet issues.

The funds will be used to further expand the Access My Info (AMI) tool, which allows Canadians access to their personal data by creating legal requests that can be sent to telecommunications companies. Under Canadian law, details such as for how long, what purposes, and when personal information is disclosed by telecommunications providers are accessible by individuals. In particular, the tool will be expanded to produce requests for industries and a number of government departments.

Andrew Hilts told CIRA that “Empowering Canadians to access and learn about their personal data is the foundation for a vibrant culture of accountability and privacy in this country. Information about people is becoming increasingly detailed, frequently updated, and harder to know what might be stored about you.” He added, “We want to help Canadians make informed decisions about the commercial relationships they maintain and this tool will let them evaluate the privacy practices of Canadian companies.”

President and CEO of CIRA Byron Holland said that “A strong Canadian Internet is one based on trust and transparency. Open Effect’s work to hold Canadian organizations accountable for how they treat personal information is critical to ensuring that Canadians are comfortable interacting and engaging online. Setting the right balance between convenience and personal privacy is a debate we need to revisit continually, and Open Effect is ensuring we have the information we need to talk seriously about these issues.”

Read the full press release by CIRA.