I have yet to come across a single interview or editorial that discusses the importance of privacy. This leads to the rather selfish claim that "I have nothing to hide" -- the implication being that anyone who champions privacy does have something to hide. What privacy allows us is a private space to conduct our affairs outside the line of sight of the other; it is a blanket on a stormy night, under which we hide ourselves. Its relationship with the storm is only incidental. If we want a society of men and women rather than a flock of livestock we must allow for them a bubble of solitude in which to conduct some of their affairs. We must not forget the value of privacy.
The province's new ID card, known as the BC Services Card, began rolling out earlier this year. At present, it combines both drivers licence and provincial health care card. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars the government has spent on other high-profile IT projects that failed miserably -- including BCeSIS, Integrated Case Management -- the provincial government has real reason to be concerned about what citizens think of their latest project.
Ensuring Canada has an accessible, affordable, surveillance-free, and open Internet is essential for our economy, culture, and global competitiveness. Minister James Moore has the power to take on Canada's entrenched Big Telecom giants. Here are 10 actions Minister Moore should take to leave a lasting positive legacy for Canadian Internet users.
As more and more of our personal information circulates online, is stored in the cloud, or is moved about on USBs and other portable devices, it's essential that we make sure those data flows are secure. While governments have been quick to respond to this increased ability to conduct surveillance, they have not been so enthusiastic about creating and enforcing protections for innocent citizens.
For those consumers already feeling overwhelmed and distracted by the constant notifications which come with a smartphone, Google Glass is probably not the best choice. We have arguably developed a dependence towards smartphones. Before consumers become dependent on Glass, they should seriously consider the implications before making their decision. In a society where relying on the mind for information and computation becomes less important due to the proliferation of mobile computers that can do the work for us, Glass may further exacerbate the dependence on technology to access information.
Last week, the popular online dating site, Plenty of Fish, announced new features to try to weed out fake profiles. Whether you're for or against the gesture, it's difficult to think of the update as anything but that. We have become a society immersed in mass habitual tinkering in the gap between who we are and who we present ourselves to be, always at work on our personal "brand."
The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, sent all four parties a questionnaire pushing them for clear positions on how they would stop the erosion of our privacy rights and defend our access to government records through Freedom of Information. On April 30th, we received responses from the NDP, the Liberals, and the Greens (we've yet to hear back from the Conservatives). They all had interesting, if decidedly different things to say.
Information issues were smoking hot right up to the drop of the writ. But ever since, they've received hardly a mention. Looks like nobody wants to talk about the government's increasing unwillingness to create written records or its habit of sheltering public documents from FOI by hiding them in personal email accounts. Even multi-million dollar data linkage and information management programs like the Integrated Case Management (ICM) system, which has been slammed repeatedly by officers of the Legislature and civil society alike, don't rate a mention from the four major parties. This is pathetic.
What a mess. It was inevitable that Kate's pregnancy would have given birth to breathless media coverage and celebration whenever it was divulged. It should have been happy, frothy, celebrity news. Instead, a woman going through a very rough, early pregnancy goes to hospital and the whole world knows about it. A nurse, fooled by broadcasters, mistakenly transfers a call that should have been hung up on, and is found dead days later. It is a sad, macabre state of affairs.
Retired Corporal Dennis Manuge is the driving force behind the SISIP class action lawsuit over pension clawbacks. Last year, Manuge revealed that, in 2009, the Minister of Veterans Affairs was briefed on private details of his medical conditions and finances. Now, the former mechanic with the Royal Canadian Regiment says VAC also breached the privacy of his brother, Anthony.
B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner took a stiff shot at the use of Automatic License Plate Recognition technology by the Victoria police. But it will likely take more than just her efforts to bring this ever-expanding surveillance system back in line with privacy law. The RCMP simply shouldn't be running a surveillance system on people who haven't broken any law, and they shouldn't be able to take advantage of the federal-provincial jurisdictional split to do so either.
There are many cases of privacy violation at Veterans Affairs. Those that have gone public have two things in common: they have all spoken out about VAC policy and they are all veterans. Some can prove the Minister was given their information. Some can only prove that Ministerial staff was reading their files. Why is this happening?
Despite the disastrous launch of the Integrated Case Management System earlier this year, the B.C. government is poised to unveil its next multimillion-dollar, can't-fail IT project: an ID card for everyone in the province. With ICBC in the middle of a labour dispute that finds corporation employees refusing training on the new card, the massive project is on hold, only weeks before its slated November launch.