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Do the Watchers Need More Watching, New Report Asks

New PIAC report “Off the Grid:  Pinpointing Location-based Technologies and the Law”

OTTAWA, September 8, 2015 – Consumers need more effective privacy rules to protect the collection, use and disclosure of their location, says a new report released today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). PIAC’s report, entitled “Off the Grid:  Pinpointing Location-based technologies and the Law,” examined whether Canada has sufficient protections in place to address the risks posed by location-based technologies (LBTs). The report also addressed whether Canadian consumers have sufficient disclosure regarding how and when telecommunications service providers collect and use location-based personal information.

“Location is highly unique, highly identifiable, and highly personal in nature, even when anonymized and aggregated,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC. “Given a general lack of transparency regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, it is essential that consumers have a more effective legal framework to protect them from the rapid developments in information collection technology, especially those capturing location,” Lawford continued.

One of the report’s key findings is that the current privacy protections may not be sufficient for the purposes of balancing the privacy interests of individuals against location-based marketing and the provision of location-based services. A stronger default of privacy protection for location information, as seen in Europe, may therefore be required.

The report recommended a series of measures to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), including the strict enforcement of the “appropriate purpose” and “specific purpose” provisions of Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), possible amendments to PIPEDA and further research into consumer awareness of mobile device location tracking. PIAC also recommended the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) undertake a fact-finding process into the collection, use and disclosure of location information by telecommunications service providers (TSPs).

“At a minimum the OPC should produce guidance about the appropriate level of consent required for location-based information,” said Geoffrey White, External Counsel to PIAC, and the author of the report for PIAC. “In addition, a CRTC review of TSP privacy practices would inform Canadians which TSP’s collect their subscribers’ location, and who is purchasing or sharing information about subscriber location from third parties,” White concluded.

 

To see the full report, please consult the following link:

OCA 2014-15 – Off the Grid – Location-based technologies and the law – Final Report

To view the report in French, please consult the following link:

OCA 2014-15 – Off the Grid – Location-based technologies and the law – Final Report_FR

 

PIAC received funding from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations to prepare the report. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of Industry Canada or the Government of Canada.

 

For more information please contact:

John Lawford
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
(613) 562-4002 ×25
lawford@piac.ca
www.piac.ca

Geoff White
External Counsel to PIAC
(613) 562-4002 ×24

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