U.S. internet service providers get green light to sell user data — but what about Canada?

U.S. internet service providers get green light to sell user data — but what about Canada?

ISPs here can only share your personal information with your express consent

Privacy protections designed to prevent U.S. internet service providers from sharing or selling subscribers’ personal information with third parties — without permission — were dismantled by U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

It means that information about the apps American internet subscribers use, the websites they visit, and the things they purchase online — among other things — can potentially be tracked, shared, and monetized by third parties, unless those users opt out.

You might be pleased to learn that Canada, which often follows the U.S. lead on technology issues, has taken a different approach. Here, internet service providers can only share your personal information with third parties with your express consent.

Tamir Israel, a staff lawyer at the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, says you have the privacy commissioner of Canada and the CRTC to thank.

Both organizations have released decisions in recent years that effectively limit the information internet service providers can collect and use for secondary purposes, such as marketing, without your consent.

Canada's privacy commissioner and the CRTC have made decisions in recent years that effectively limit the information internet service providers can collect and use for secondary purposes, such as marketing, without your consent.

Canada’s privacy commissioner and the CRTC have made decisions in recent years that effectively limit the information internet service providers can collect and use for secondary purposes, such as marketing, without your consent. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Pitfalls of relevant ads

In 2013, the privacy commissioner launched an investigation into a new Bell initiative called the “relevant advertising program.” The Canadian telco used network usage information, as well as account and demographic information, to build advertising profiles that could be used by third parties to target specific audiences with ads.

In other words, advertisers could target Bell users that visited certain websites. Browsing history or frequently used apps could also be used to infer users’ interests. Users could be further targeted by age, phone model or credit score. Bell also indicated that it might use home internet usage, television viewing history and calling patterns to build ad profiles in the future.

This sort of thing is fine — but only if customers opt in, or choose to allow their personal information to be used in this way. In this case, however, Bell designed the relevant advertising program to be opt-out, the default for Bell users unless they said otherwise. This is the current reality for internet users in the U.S.

Internet_use

Marketers and advertisers are especially interested in the data they can glean from U.S. internet service provider usage data, which can reveal much about a person’s habits and interests. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Marketers and advertisers are especially interested in the data they can glean from U.S. internet service provider usage data, which can reveal much about a person’s habits and interests. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

“Bell should not simply assume that, unless they proactively speak up to the contrary, customers are consenting to have their personal information used in this new way,” Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said at the time, recommending that Bell make its program opt-in.

By combining a user’s personal information with their usage information, “they kind of crossed a line in what they proposed they wanted to do,” said David Fraser, a partner at the law firm McInnes Cooper, who specializes in privacy issues. “If any other telco was looking at doing that before, they’ve mostly changed their mind.”

Even earlier, in 2009, the CRTC reviewed the internet traffic management practices of Canadian ISPs — the hardware and software ISPs use to track and manage how customers are using the network, for the ISPs’ own business purposes.

Although the review was not specifically focused on marketing or ads, the CRTC said in its decision it was taking steps “to ensure that personal information collected for the purpose of managing internet traffic is not used for other purposes and is not disclosed.”

Bell ultimately chose to close its old marketing program, but it now has a new program — one that, following the privacy commissioner’s recommendation, is opt-in.

So there’s no data sharing at all?

Even though Canadian ISPs can’t share personal information with third parties without your consent, it doesn’t mean they’re not sharing any data at all.

Rogers, Bell and Telus, for example, say they may share de-identified information — data that has been stripped of personal information — with third parties, without your consent.

This may be done for “research, planning, or product and service development,” according to Telus, while Bell says it may be done “to provide social benefits (such as assisting municipalities with traffic planning) and to develop analytic marketing reports for our use and for the use of our partners.”

What’s the problem with that? Researchers have shown that, in some cases, users can be re-identified when de-identified data is combined with other sources of data. It’s enough of a concern that some companies explicitly forbid re-identification in their terms of use.

But by and large, Fraser sees the collection of de-identified data as much less of a concern than other types of data. “It’s aggregate information,” he said. On its own, “it really doesn’t tell you anything about any individual.”

Of course, knowing things about individuals is exactly what marketers want from ISPs. In Canada, they’ll have to keep waiting. In the U.S., not so much.

 Source: CBC News
How three Canadian cities are trying to become smart cities

How three Canadian cities are trying to become smart cities

Upon hearing the phrase “smart city,” a foggy image of the Jetsons probably comes to mind.

Smart cities are still an unknown concept to most urbanites, who don’t realize that changes are currently underway to make the cities they live in smarter. On March 7th, representatives from cities across Canada came together for the second annual SAP Smart Cities Forum, where the future of urban life was explored.

As the director of technology innovation for the City of Kitchener, Dan Murray puts it; the definition of a smart city changes depending on which city you enter, as each city has its own priorities and its own obstacles.

However, for Canadian cities that are looking to become smart cities, one central theme seems to be generally agreed upon, and that is one of efficiency and communication.

While some cities like Mississauga are tackling these concepts by modernizing and improving their transportation portals, others, such as the City of Toronto, are bridging communication gaps by making its data available to its citizens.

Here’s a look at how three Canadian cities are trying to become smart cities.

Toronto: Open Data, Public Transit, IoT

The city of Toronto has been extremely active in making the vast amounts of data its collects available to the public. The city’s open data initiatives have paved the way for all kinds of data-driven projects to come to fruition.

Some of the initiatives currently underway include the Data Catalogue on the city’s website, the public data manipulator Wellbeing Toronto, geographic data, and several data-driven apps.

According to the director of enterprise and solutions at the City of Toronto, Fazal Husain, the data obtained through the city’s open data initiatives plays a critical role in helping city workers gain a better understanding the obstacles that stand in the way of Toronto becoming a smart city.

“If the city doesn’t know the problem of day-to-day life that you’re experiencing, I don’t know if we can address it,” says Husain.

He goes on to describe the city’s Cycling App as a prime example of how data initiatives help the city run more efficiently. The Cycling App is an initiative spearheaded by Brisk Synergies for the City of Toronto which allows cyclists to record their cycling routes. This data will be made available to the city for reference when developing cycling network plans.

After a run-in with a pedestrian who raved about the app, Husain was convinced about its potential to improve circumstances for all Toronto cyclists and serve as a model for other city services.

In addition, Toronto is focusing heavily on public transit and IoT as a way to solve the city’s ongoing congestion problems. Going forward, the city is considering an IoT solution to improve the flow of traffic.

Husain concluded by saying that a smart city isn’t an end goal, but a process. “I don’t think a smart city is an end state. It will continue to be developed because technology is not standing still,” says Husain.

Mississauga: Wi-Fi Blanket, Public transit, public outreach, IoT

The City of Mississauga has been extremely active in the smart city movement through public transit initiatives, Wi-Fi enhancement and other forms of public engagement.

Shawn Slack, the city’s director of information technology and chief information officer spoke extensively about Mississauga’s investment in improving public transit across its jurisdiction as a response to one of the GTA’s most pressing concerns.

“So, a lot of our smart city type technologies are investing in advanced traffic management, smart bus technology, so that we can get a better handle around how traffic is moving and then respond when there’s either an accident, or during rush hour, or in making sure we have coordination of services and traffic control,” says Slack.

Slack also emphasized the importance of bringing Wi-Fi to as many corridors of the city as possible. In addition helping to bridge the digital divide, Slack describes that such a robust Wi-Fi network is also invaluable to the consolidation of communication across the city.

He uses the example of communicating with citizens. As City Hall becomes more technologically capable internally, it has the ability to communicate with citizens about relevant announcements and services through web portals, such as video messages. Without reliable internet access, citizens in certain parts of the jurisdiction may not have access to these important messages.

“We want to make sure that if we’re going to tailor communication, people have the capacity to get internet in that area,” says Slack.

In order to sustain this model, the City has partnered with multiple parties across the region, including the Region of Peel, Brampton and Caledon as well as several hospitals and universities. These partnerships ensure that services like this one remain affordable.

“It’s an economy of scale. So we have a private fibre network within the region of Peel. And it’s a partnership between the city of Mississauga, Brampton, town of Caledon and the Region of Peel, the hospitals and the post-secondary schools. We’ve built enough fibre within the region to go around the planet once. If the city were to build that on its own, it wouldn’t be as affordable and the benefits wouldn’t be as effective,” continues Slack.

Kitchener: Outreach, incubators, eServices, public transit

While the City of Kitchener doesn’t see a value in blanketing its jurisdiction with Wi-Fi, city leadership has developed a four-part plan to work towards becoming a smart city.

The director of technology, innovation and e-services at the City of Kitchener, Dan Murray, says that there isn’t one definitive standard for what a smart city will be. It all depends on the individual city’s circumstances.

Kitchener leadership placed a heightened emphasis on the community aspect of ‘smart city,’ by spending 18 months developing the Digital Kitchener strategy.

“We tried to leverage technology to improve the lives of the citizens in Kitchener. That’s kind of how we approached this. We approached a technology strategy with a strong community focus to it,” says Murray.

Kitchener’s strategy calls for the to be city, connected, innovative, on demand, inclusive, and to prioritize the needs that the citizens want to see fulfilled.

The city will aim to install an IoT network and fibre optic capability in areas where it would improve civic life, and implement on-demand e-services to reach citizens on the digital platforms they’re active in.

Moreover, the City of Kitchener is a fast-growing innovation hub in Canada, which is largely incorporated into the city’s smart city ambitions.

Communitech, for example, is the largest technology incubator in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and one of the most well-known across Canada. This incubator and others will play a significant role in becoming more digitally-enabled.

“Every city also has their own realities and their own factors that are at play. I think what we try and do is look for various ideas among municipalities but you have to try and adapt them for what makes sense for yourself. And that’s really what we were trying to do with digital Kitchener, was gain an understanding of the things that are of interest to the citizens of Kitchener.”

Smart cities, by the city

When it comes to smart cities, every region has its own idea of how to get there. They all agree on one thing however; a smart city will be in a constant state of development.

As technology evolves and changes, so to will its uses in civic life. Even more importantly, as cities evolve and change, so to will their requirements of the technology they use.

Between cross-platform Wi-Fi, consolidated transportation and data-driven initiatives, it’s fair to say that citizens will begin to feel the effects of these changes extremely soon. Perhaps the ever-elusive smart city isn’t so much about achieving an end goal, but rather, a way for technology to truly change the civic experience.

Source: Mobile Syrup

THE IoT 101 REPORT: Your essential guide to the Internet of Things

THE IoT 101 REPORT: Your essential guide to the Internet of Things

You’ve likely heard the phrase Internet of Things, or IoT, at some point if you have been following any tech news in the last several years.

But at the same time, you might be scratching your head figuring out what it is or what it means past a flashy buzzword.

Simply put, the IoT refers to the connection of devices (other than typical fare such as computers and smartphones) to the Internet. Cars, refrigerators, juicers, wine racks, heart monitors, ovens, watches, and more are all candidates for connection.

A new report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, called IoT 101: The Essential Guide to the Internet of Things, outlines the basics of the IoT and what this next wave of technology means to the everyday individual. The report dives into key IoT terms, predictions and trends for the IoT in the next five years, the industries that the IoT will affect the most, and the biggest challenges facing the IoT.

Here are the key takeaways from the report:

  • The IoT will surge into the mainstream by the end of this decade to include 24 billion devices. This would mean that approximately four IoT connected devices would exist for every human being on the planet.
  • Governments and companies will invest billions of dollars into IoT devices in the next few years. And that investment will pay off by generating trillions of dollars by 2025.
  • The IoT will profoundly transform daily life for governments, consumers, and businesses. These changes will occur in transportation, agriculture, utilities, smart cities, and more.
  • There are dozens of companies with their hands in the IoT space, and more will soon join them. The list includes Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Fitbit, IBM, Google, Amazon, and more.

In full, the report:

  • Reveals the best IoT companies in which to invest.
  • Explains why system integration is the biggest challenge to those in the IoT space.
  • Details the biggest security and privacy issues that the IoT creates.
  • Dives into the 5 Stages of the IoT and explains why many companies have yet to fulfill the IoT’s true potential.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, choose one of these options:

  1. Purchase the Ultimate IoT Reports Bundle to receive this report PLUS 36 other expertly researched IoT reports. SAVE 89% >> BUY THE BUNDLE
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the IoT.

Source: Business Insider

CIRA INVESTING $1 MILLION TOWARDS PROJECTS THAT IMPROVE INTERNET ACCESS

CIRA INVESTING $1 MILLION TOWARDS PROJECTS THAT IMPROVE INTERNET ACCESS

There are currently more than 2.5 million registered .ca domain names, and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is hoping to attract even more for its 2017 Community Investment Program (CIP).

Through the program, CIRA is hoping to bring together members of “Canada’s internet community” to help build a “better online Canada.” Over the past three years, the program has selected 78 projects from across Canada who received a total of $3.2 million CAD in funding.

In 2017 however, the CIP will divest $1 million towards funding these projects with between $25,000 and $100,000 dedicated to each initiative. Typical grants range between $25,000 and $50,000.

With this initiative, CIRA hopes to recognize groups that serve one of its four core purposes.

These include providing youth the wireless services they need, bringing remote communities online, exploring new digital issues affecting Canadians and educating marginalized and impoverished Canadians the economic opportunities that exist for them online.

”The ingenuity and creativity of Canadians being what they are, we always receive more requests for funding than we can grant. That, in a sense, is a great problem to have in that we are able to select truly outstanding Internet projects which promise to bring about concrete and substantive improvements in people’s lives,” said Michael Geist, chair of CIRA’s Community Investment Committee, in a statement.

“CIRA’s Community Investment Program makes a real difference, and I am confident that the committee will have our work cut out for us again this year,” the Canadian wireless expert continued.

The following groups are eligible to apply: organizations recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency as registered charities, not-for-profit groups and academics/researchers affiliated with a Canadian university.

Applications for the 2017 session close on March 1st, 2017. Applicants will be informed of the status of their application beginning in May 2017.

Source: Betakit

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