Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OPP launches redesigned website enhancing public access to OPP information

ORILLIA, ON, October 27, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) launched a redesigned and interactive website yesterday as part of its ongoing commitment to providing public access to OPP information, investigations and events. To be inclusive of people with disabilities, the website was designed to meet current accessibility standards.

Increasingly, websites are the first point of contact between an organization and the public.

Some of the advanced features of the website include:

- Content Focused Banners that will draw attention to current issues,
topics and events of general public interest;
- The "Crime Files" section provides access to a database of OPP
unsolved or cold cases and invites information or tips that may lead
to the resolution of cases. This feature includes Criminal
Investigation Branch (CIB) unsolved investigations, OPP most wanted
criminals, Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement (ROPE) most wanted,
missing persons and OPP reward posters;
- The "News" section will feature information relating to AMBER Alerts,
corporate media releases, OPP events, a media gallery, news media
kits and feature archives;
- In "Your Local OPP", the "Detachment Finder" will make it easy to
locate any of the 165 detachments across the province. Enter your
address in the finder field to locate your closest OPP detachment!
- In the "How Do I?" section you will find some of the most commonly
asked questions about the OPP;
- The "Focus" section will highlight attention to special OPP programs
and initiatives;
- The "Careers" section will provide information on OPP career
opportunities for uniform, civilian and volunteer positions; and the
- "Contact us" feature will provide the public with the ability to
locate frequently called OPP phone numbers provide feedback and
information to the OPP.

The OPP Museum is also launching a new web page as a stand alone
component of the redesign effort. The OPP Museum's new website presents a
wealth of information on featured exhibits and resources - including detailed
photographs of museum artefacts.

For more information, and to view the redesigned website, go to The OPP invites the public to visit the website often as information is frequently updated.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is Identity Theft Really That Serious?

By Jim King

If it hasn't touched you yet, you'll probably just brush it off with a laugh. The thing is that identity theft if it does involve you could be very, very serious. Just imagine walking into a store and buying that new music system. You give the salesman your credit card and he comes back apologetically to say he can't give you credit. Or maybe you've just been to an interview for a great new job and you're so sure they loved you and you'll be there next month. Well, you could just get a cold call saying you didn't get the job. It could be worse. Imagine hearing the doorbell ring and a policemen walk in to arrest you.

Does all this sound like it's taken from a movie script and a far-fetched one at that? Well before you brush if off as improbable, ask around and you'll find that the consequences of identity theft can be very bad. So you haven't been hit yet? You lucky thing, you! However, if you don't pay attention, you could be next and you could be going through these scenarios where your credit just isn't good enough. People who steal your identity don't even know who you are, neither do they care. As long as they can do it to anyone, that's all they want.... read more

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Hackers, Malicious Code, Spyware, Trojan Horses and Virus Checkers...O My!

From our Glossary

HACKER, ATTACKER, or INTRUDER: These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain. Although their intentions are sometimes fairly benign and motivated solely by curiosity, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems they are exploiting. The results can range from mere mischief (creating a virus with no intentionally negative impact) to malicious activity (stealing or altering information).

MALICIOUS CODE: This category includes code such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they have unique characteristics.

SPYWARE: Spyware was originally, not designed to do mischief, but rather to gather information. More recently, spyware, or adware, has changed into an invader of your privacy. It examines programs and cookies on your computer looking for items used to either gain data from your computer or track your Internet use. A spyware checker is a program designed to protect your personal information. The most common type of spyware, more properly termed adware, generates pop-up and other ads.

TROJAN HORSE: A Trojan horse program is software that claims to be one thing while in fact doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending confidential information to a remote intruder.

VIRUS CHECKER: A virus checker or virus protection is a program that runs continuously whenever your computer is on. It monitors the contents of e-mail attachments as well as programs that run on your computer. It detects and disarms viruses and prevents damage to your computer before they start trouble.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Facebook shuts down Beacon marketing tool

As part of a settlement of a large class-action lawsuit in California, Facebook has agreed to completely shut down its "Beacon" feature, which connects users' activites outside of Facebook to the users' profiles. See: Facebook shuts down Beacon marketing tool Sync.

Beacon was one of many high-profile privacy missteps taken by Facebook over its relatively short history. I've always thought that Facebook is a bit of a game-changer and has had to blaze its own trail through uncharted territory. While mistakes happen, it has been remarkable that Facebook has not been more open to its users by giving advance warning about significant changes and the simple use of "opt in" for features that are inherently intrusive.

This underscores the theory that privacy is, in large measure, about meeting users' expectations. If users are surprised by the use of their information, they get upset. If you tell users how you propose to use their information and give them control over that, they're generally fine with it. It's just that simple.

from Canadian Privacy Law Blog

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Canada leads G-8 in adoption of broadband Internet access services

Virtually 100 per cent of Canadians now have access to broadband Internet

TORONTO, Oct. 7 /Canada NewsWire/ - Virtually every Canadian who wants broadband Internet access can get it, and most can choose to get it from a broad array of service providers and technologies.

A new report by Mark H. Goldberg & Associates Inc. and Giganomics Consulting Inc. entitled "Lagging or Leading: The state of Canada's broadband infrastructure" takes a critical look at the state of Internet infrastructure in Canada, clearly demonstrating that on balance Canadians are the beneficiaries of industry investment and government programs that have created a diversified broadband infrastructure covering virtually the entire nation.

"Access to the Internet is crucial in today's global economy, so we thought it important to look at all the facts and information to paint a true picture of the Internet in Canada," says Mr. Goldberg. "Despite the significant challenges of geography and low population density, Canada has among the best access to affordable broadband service anywhere in the world. Contrary to the conclusions of the OECD, Canada compares favorably and in many cases surpasses countries whose governments have funded the deployment of broadband networks using enormous levels of tax dollars."

In large part due to investment by private Internet service providers (ISPs), the authors found that 100 per cent of Canadians have access to broadband Internet, when you look at all available technologies rather than a narrow range or even a single option. Canada's ISPs are currently investing $8 - $10 billion every year on expanding their networks and bringing faster access to Canadians.

"The vast majority of Canadians benefit from a world-leading level of choice in access to broadband technologies, using phone lines, cable lines, wireless services (fixed and mobile) and satellite services," says Mr. Goldberg. "Moreover, Canadians have access to some of the most affordable services, while also benefiting from some of the world's fastest connection speeds for both wireline and wireless broadband services."

The report shows that Canada continues to rank first in the G-8 countries in adoption of Internet access services, and consistently ranks in the top 10 of most international comparisons on broadband penetration and speeds. This contradicts a recent student project from Oxford's Said Business School that suffers from weak methodology, leading to unreliable results.

With almost 70 per cent of Canadian households already subscribing to broadband Internet, there still remains a significant opportunity to expand broadband adoption even further.

"When you look at all the facts, it is clear Canada is a leader in broadband network deployment and that Canadians benefit from a competitive Internet industry bringing them the latest technologies and affordable pricing," said Ms. Blackwell, Giganomics Consulting. "That said, we uncovered several opportunities that deserve attention and will help us hold our enviable global position in the Internet industry. Our country's economy will only come to rely even more on broadband in the coming years, so it is critical we get this right." The report makes several recommendations:

- As we go through the process of developing a national information and
communication technologies (ICT) strategy, recognize the true state
of Canada's ICT infrastructure and take into account all established
and emerging technologies.
- Continue policies focused on fostering facilities-based competition.
- Build on the past success of private sector investment by removing
current policy and regulatory uncertainty regarding investments in
next-generation networks.
- Shift more attention to adoption issues (including adoption of next-
generation services) and encourage socio-economic research focused on
better understanding the obstacles to, and inhibitors of, broadband
- Consider programmes to improve digital literacy and the use of
incentives (tax-based or otherwise) to target and overcome any
barriers to broadband adoption.

The Mark H. Goldberg & Associates Inc. and Giganomics Consulting Inc. report, commissioned by a group of Canada's largest ISPs, seeks to understand the true state of broadband adoption in Canada and to provide the facts and analysis required to facilitate constructive debate that will help keep Canadians at the forefront of the Internet age.

To read the full report please visit or

Canadians need to take control of their online personal information

Privacy Commissioner of Canada's annual report focuses on importance of making informed choices about sharing personal information online.

OTTAWA, Oct. 10 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - As more and more Canadians live their lives online, the Privacy Commissioner is cautioning them to take greater responsibility for securing their privacy and thinking twice about what they post on the Internet.

"Many young people are choosing to open their lives in ways their parents would have thought impossible and their grandparents unthinkable. Their lives play out on a public stage of their own design as they strive for visibility, connectedness and knowledge," says Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

"Such openness can lead to greater creativity, literacy, networking and social engagement. But putting so much of their personal information out into the open can also...leave an enduring trail of embarrassing moments that could haunt them in future," the Commissioner says in her annual report to Parliament, which was tabled today.

The Commissioner's 2008 Annual Report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) highlights the issue of youth privacy. It also looks at 2008 privacy complaint investigations; technology and privacy issues; and the Commissioner's efforts to encourage the development of international privacy standards.

Commissioner Stoddart noted that many people have been fired, missed out on job interviews and academic opportunities, and been suspended from school for instant messages, wall posts and other types of online correspondence they mistakenly thought were private conversations with friends.

There is also a risk that unguarded personal information could be exploited by identity thieves.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner recently completed an investigation into the privacy policies and practices of the popular social networking site Facebook. While that investigation focused on Facebook's obligations under Canadian privacy law, the Commissioner emphasized at the time that, with nearly 12 million Canadians on Facebook, it's also important for users to adopt the appropriate privacy settings and to understand how their personal information may be used or shared online.

The Privacy Commissioner's Office has made online youth privacy a key priority, using contests, communications materials and a dedicated youth privacy website to reach out to young people and to encourage them to reflect on privacy issues and to "Think Before You Click."

"As Canada's privacy guardian, it is our role to create awareness of privacy risks, show people how to address those risks, and make it easy for them to make informed decisions," says Commissioner Stoddart.

Adds Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Denham: "We're not suggesting the clock be turned back; we just want to ensure Canadians have the information they need to make more privacy-conscious decisions."

The annual report, available on the OPC website at, includes details of complaints received and investigated by the Office in 2008.

The OPC received 422 new PIPEDA-related complaints for investigation in 2008, ending a downward trend that had lasted for several years. In 2007, there had been 350 complaints, fewer than half the 723 received in 2004.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians