Post Tagged with: "social media"

In Defence of the Government Tracking Social Media Activity

For most of the past decade, many people concerned with digital rights have used the Internet and social media to raise awareness in the hope that the government might pay closer attention to their views. The Canadian experience has provided more than its fair share of success stories from copyright reform to usage based billing to the Vic Toews lawful access bill. Yet in recent weeks, there has been mounting criticism about the government’s tracking of social media. This post provides a partial defence of the government, arguing that it should be tracking social media activity provided it does so for policy-making purposes.

The controversy started with news that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has written to the government to express concern that an increasing number of government institutions are collecting publicly available personal information from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The initial report generated considerable media attention with claims that the activity may violate the Privacy Act (or at least the spirit of the legislation).

Last week, Treasury Board President Tony Clement told Jesse Brown that the collection was largely in aggregate form to track public sentiment and that a full review of current practices would be undertaken. However, a later report demonstrated that government officials tracking Bill C-30 (the earlier lawful access bill) did identify specific Twitter users and their tweets (many internal documents I’ve obtained under Access to Information suggest that the Public Safety officials have been exceptionally defensive about lawful access and often seem to drift away from a balanced position).

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May 26, 2014 6 comments News

Leaked Conservative Election Document Reveals How Social Media Activity Linked to Party Database

The Toronto Star reports  on a leaked Conservative party document setting out the strategy for the 2015 election.  Of particular note is the party’s plans to engage in widespread social media monitoring that seek to identify users based on social media activity for follow-up and engagement.  The Star reports:

the document showed how the party can mine information on “non-CPC branded” websites, using a friendly media “Illustration.” The slide show points to radio station CFRA’s Lowell Green, whom it identifies as an “Ottawa based conservative leaning talk show host.” It says a “recent Facebook posting – non-issue” received 55 Facebook “likes.” The document says the party was able to “positively identify 38 constituents (70 per cent ID rate).” Of those 38, it said five “are current members/donors.” The result, it said: “33 Canadians who would be a ‘warm contact’ for engagement.”

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February 11, 2014 2 comments News

Ethics Committee Releases Study on Privacy and Social Media

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics has released its study on privacy and social media. The report includes recommendations for new Privacy Commissioner guidelines. The NDP supplemented those recommendations with nine additional legislative proposals that include mandatory security breach disclosure, order making power for the Privacy […]

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April 23, 2013 1 comment Must Reads

Seeking Solutions to the Mounting Social Media Privacy Concerns

The House of Commons Committee on Ethics, Accountability and Privacy recently launched a major new study into the privacy concerns raised by popular social media sites. The study promises to canvass a wide range of perspectives as elected officials grapple with emerging privacy issues and consider whether the current legal framework provides sufficient protection.

Canadians are among the most active social media users in the world, yet the growing reliance on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ has generated unease with the privacy implications of massive data collection. My weekly technology law column last week (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes I was recently invited to appear before the committee and used my time to identify four areas in need of action.

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June 11, 2012 1 comment Columns

Seeking Solutions to the Mounting Social Media Privacy Concerns

fbprivacy Appeared in the Toronto Star on June 3, 2012 as Strong Laws Needed to Curb Facebook The House of Commons Committee on Ethics, Accountability and Privacy recently launched a major new study into the privacy concerns raised by popular social media sites. The study promises to canvass a wide […]

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June 3, 2012 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive