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Inside Internal Controls

News and discussion on implementing risk management

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Personal information online: new tools, old responsibilities

Sometimes, technology creates new ways to exploit information faster than the law and business can keep up. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen in the case of behavioural advertising. Last year, the Privacy Commissioner conducted consultations on the new ways that organizations are collecting and using customers’ personal information, and prepared its Report on the 2010 Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Consultations on Online Tracking, Profiling and Targeting, and Cloud Computing.

 

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Do you offer ‘paperless receipts’?

If you do, you should make sure you understand the privacy and personal information implications. CTV reports that some Canadian retailers are now offering their customers an “e-receipt”, which they can receive by email or access at dedicated websites. Sure, it’s a “green” option, and maybe more convenient for customers who want to track their purchases, but it requires the customer to provide an email address, which might allow retailers to “learn a lot about a customer’s preferences and buying habits”.

 

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Online security – not just for big business

Surely you’ve heard about the major security and data breaches that Sony has experienced this year. It’s bad. It’s a liability. Despite the popularity of their online services, they’ll have to work hard to regain customers’ loyalty. Other big names have experienced similar attacks.

 

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Facebook faces privacy questions… again

Over the past couple of years, Facebook has had run-ins with the Canadian Privacy Commissioner. And Canada’s not alone; privacy watchdogs in the United States and around the world have been critical of Facebook’s willingness to sacrifice users’ personal data in the name of social media…

 

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Amendments to PIPEDA disappoint privacy watchdogs

On May 29, the federal government introduced Bill C-29, the Safeguarding Canadians’ Personal Information Act, which makes substantial changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The Bill had been in development for several years, and one of its primary objectives was to address a significant gap in PIPEDA, the issue of mandatory disclosure of “material” breaches of personal information by the companies or organizations responsible.

 

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Privacy risk management – by design

I’ve discussed the Privacy by Design principle before, in the Inside Internal Control newsletter. In case you don’t know, PbD is an approach developed by Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, which proactively embeds privacy protection by default in the design of an organization’s practices and products.

 

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When did privacy become such a huge issue?

I guess you’ve heard about some of the privacy breaches of the past few years. You know, the one where a major Canadian bank faxed personal information on thousands of customers to two random businesses in West Virginia and Quebec, or where the public officials left work laptops or memory keys unattended with unencrypted private data on citizens and they were stolen, and on and on. What’s happening? Why are these accidents popping up so frequently now?

 

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Who’s looking at your garbage, and why should you care?

You know what happens when you dump your garbage in the bin, right? The garbage collectors pick it up and take it away, and you don’t worry about it any more. But should you worry about it? A 2009 Supreme Court of Canada decision suggests you might want to.

 

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