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.
With complex statistical techniques, and a quickly expanding universe of data drawn from an increasing number of our behaviours online and offline, a multitude of organizations and institutions are using predictive analytics to do that which has always fascinated and eluded the human race -- predict the future.
Faulty advertising rules caused extensive problems for small spenders such as non-profit and charity groups during the 2009 B.C. election. The rules led to widespread confusion, wasted resources, anxiety and, most dangerously, self-censorship among organizations that spent little or nothing on election advertising. The government should have (and could have) fixed this situation when it was amending the law this spring, but chose not to.
As the International Telecommunication Union's negotiations move closer, more worrying developments are coming to light. At Openmedia we recently posted about some of the main concerns raised by the secretive negotiations, which threaten to change the Internet as we know it. A recent report highlights concerns that the proposals are particularly harmful to the developing world because accessing Internet content will become more expensive. Some content providers might choose to simply stop servicing regions with customers that have limited buying power. It's the role users play in Internet governance, not governments and big telecom conglomerates, that should be expanded.
Citing a whole range of exceptions from legal privilege to law enforcement to personal privacy, the ministry refused to release any of the records we requested. This, despite the fact that our request should have little or nothing to do with lawyers or police! An RCMP investigation shouldn't mean that every record held by the ministry is automatically off-limits to FOI requests.
The back to school time of year is full of anxiety for most kids because there is nothing worse than going to school and being made fun of, picked on or the topic of juicy gossip. While you can't control what people say about you, you can do things to avoid beind the brunt of hurtful comments about your looks. While many of these tips may seem obvious, I'll bet you have posted things about yourself that could make you an easy target.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is once against in the centre of a major privacy backlash. It has been reported that Canada Border Services has installed surveillance equipment in the Ottawa airport that will allow for eavesdropping on conversations. Canada has already suffered two serious threats to their privacy in recent months. Does it really need a third?
Despite its inflated IPO, Facebook couldn't look more different from what we hoped it might someday be. The problem is that no one's happy: Customers are subjected to more and more ads, and the companies who created those ads aren't seeing much of a return on investment. But the IPO adds another wrinkle to the equation...
Facebook's profits are tied to a morally questionable business model; one that is addictive, and insidious for users. For all the good that Zuckerberg's company has done for reconnecting people, and letting them communicate with one another, Facebook exists to extract from those relationships the secrets of what makes us tick consumers.