Protect your personal data

By Mark Abbott, Courthouse Libraries BC – Information Services

Google Home Assistant

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new global standard for privacy law, came into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR gives citizens of the European Union (EU) more control over their personal information and how organizations all over the world can use their data. The regulation is far-reaching, applicable to Canadian organizations if they offer goods and services to and/or monitor the behaviour of EU citizens.

This new law comes at an interesting time as news stories circulate of large data breaches in both the public and private sectors. Our lives are inextricably intertwined with and operating in the digital ether. One example of this is the growing adoption of “Smart Home Technology”. Smart Home Technology allows various types of devices to connect to the internet, to offer automation services that either provide convenience, efficiency, and/or security.

In this new world of opportunity, how can we protect our personal data? We consulted BC and Canadian privacy and security experts for tips on how you can take preventive measures against having your data stolen and some precautions to take with smart home technology.

What is Smart Home Technology?

Smart Home Technology includes devices connected to the internet that exchange data with each other, commonly referred to as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. Examples range from dimmer light switches, monitored thermostats, wireless speaker systems, to smartphones, Amazon Echo (powered by Alexa) and Google Home.

Precautions and Awareness

Before you start using smart home technology, there are some important considerations, according to Vincent Gogolek, former executive director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA). “The first precaution should be to look at whether the convenience offered by a particular device is of real use to you compared to the potential downside risks,” he says. “Does your toaster really need to be connected to the internet?”

In terms of awareness, Vincent suggests we keep ourselves informed about features we might not even realize are a potential problem. “Microphones that allow voice commands are able to record everything that goes on in that room, and it is often unclear when recording is on, how long it is stored, where it is shared and what may be done with the personal information it collects.”

Practical steps to protect yourself

Former Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian is a vocal and tireless advocate for data security and safeguarding our personal information. We spoke with Dr. Cavoukian about some practical steps you can take to protect yourself.

“At this point in time, refrain from bringing these connected devices into your home,” she says. “Your home is your last bastion of privacy and these devices completely erode that.” Dr. Cavoukian believes that in the wake of the GDPR coming into effect, there’s a better chance we’ll have greater protection.

If you simply can’t wait to have that Amazon Echo or smart refrigerator in your home, “you have to, unfortunately, read the Terms of Service these companies provide,” she cautions–even if those service agreements remain long and tedious–particularly if you want to know how your information is stored and used by third parties. Equipping yourself with this knowledge helps you make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to engage with the technology.

Learn more about your privacy rights

Clicklaw has a couple of resources available on the above topics:

  • The Internet of ThingsFrom the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, this introduction to privacy issues – with a focus on the retail and home environments – is a handy starter guide. You can read the entire guide on the webpage or download it as a pdf.
  • Get Cyber Safe – Cyber Security RisksFrom the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness site “Get Cyber Safe”: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical devices (smart/connected devices) that connect to each other via the internet. This website helps you understand how to protect your privacy and security if you are using them at home. It also has a section for small/medium business owners.

Suggested Reading

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA) published their report “Connected Cars” in the spring of 2015. Be on the lookout, as BC FIPA’s new executive director, Sara Neuert, said an updated report will likely be published by early fall. Read the report here.

Stay informed:

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June 2018 Events (BC-wide, Online)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

  • June 1 – 5 (various dates): the provincial government presents various events as part of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week in Canal Flats, New Westminster, Victoria, Skidegate, and Old Massett. See more details and contact info for each event here (PDF).
    • Friday, June 1 (10:00 am – 12:00 pm) Information on services available for victims & survivors of crime – Base Camp Coffee, 4957 Burns Ave., Canal Flats
    • Friday, June 1 Integrated Support for Victims of Sexual Violence Symposium – Justice Institute of British Columbia, 715 McBride Blvd., New
      Westminster
    • Saturday, June 2 (6:35 pm) Domestic Abuse Awareness Project – Royal Athletic Park, 1014 Caledonia Avenue, Victoria
    • Monday, June 4 (6:00 – 8:30 pm) Transforming the Culture (film & discussion) – Haida Heritage Centre Kay Linagaay Sea Lion Town/Skidegate
    • Tuesday, June 5 (6:00 – 8:30 pm) Transforming the Culture (film & discussion) – Tluu Xaadaa Naay Longhouse, Old Masset
  • June 4 – 6 (various dates): Courthouse Libraries BC and Access Pro Bono present two webinars for current and prospective volunteers with Access Pro Bono. Advocates and front-line workers are welcomed to join.
  • June 4 – 28 (various dates): the provincial government’s Rental Housing Task Force is hosting public meetings in 10 locations across BC throughout June.

The Task Force invites rental housing providers, renters, housing advocates, and stakeholders to attend a 3-hour facilitated workshop in their community. They are seeking input to identify solutions and ideas for making recommendations to modernize BC’s tenancy laws and policies. Find the location closest to you and register online here.

  • Tuesday, June 5 (9:30 am – 12:30 pm): Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) presents Preventing, Investigating and Responding to Workplace Sexual Harassment at the CLAS office in Vancouver.

This three-hour interactive workshop will help you understand your legal obligations to prevent, investigate and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. The course is accredited for 3 hours of Continuing Professional Development credit by the Law Society of BC. Workshop fee is $100 per person. If you are a non-profit organization and the fee poses a barrier, please contact us to discuss alternative arrangements. Get more information here (PDF).

  • June 5 – 6 (various dates): Law for Nonprofits presents various workshops in Cranbrook and Vancouver.
    •  Tuesday, June 5 (10:00 am – 12:00 pm MDT) Recordkeeping and Privacy for Non-Profits – College of the Rockies, Cranbrook. Free to non-profit organizations within the West Kootenay/Columbia Basin area. Get more information and register online here.
    • Tuesday, June 5 (1:00 – 3:00 pm MDT) The New Societies Act: What You Need to Know – College of the Rockies, Cranbrook. Free to non-profit organizations within the West Kootenay/Columbia Basin area.  Get more information and register online here.
    • Wednesday, June 6 (9:30 am – 12:00 pm) The New Societies Act: What You Need to Know – the Alliance for Arts + Culture, Vancouver. The fee is $50. City of Vancouver Bursaries available. Get more information and register online here.
    • Wednesday, June 6 (1:30 – 4:00 pm) Employment and Human Rights 101 Workshop – the Alliance for Arts + Culture, Vancouver. The fee is $50. City of Vancouver Bursaries available. Get more information and register online here.
  • June 5 – 13 (various dates): Plan Institute presents information sessions and workshops by phone and in Vancouver.
    • Tuesday, June 5 (10:00 am – 12:00 pm) Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) – Plan Institute Office, Suite 260 – 3665 Kingsway, Vancouver. Cost: free. Register online here.
    • Thursday, June 7 (10:00 am – 12:00 pm) Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Workshop – Plan Institute Office, Suite 260 – 3665 Kingsway, Vancouver. Cost: $65.00 per person or $90.00 for two. Register online here.
    • Wednesday, June 13 (10:00 am – 12:00 pm) Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) – teleseminar by phone/computer. Cost: free. Register online here.
  • June 6 – 7 (various dates): People’s Law School presents two classes on Wills and Estates for the public on the following topics in Burnaby and Port Moody.
  • Tuesday, June 12 (5:00 – 9:00 pm): the Kettle Society presents 2018 Making a Difference Fundraiser at The Permanent, Vancouver.

Come to celebrate The Kettle Society’s inspired mental health work at an evening to benefit our core service programs. Taking place at The Permanent, one of Vancouver’s most stunning heritage spaces, each guest will enjoy a complimentary themed cocktail and delicious food from The Lazy Gourmet. Cocktails and conversation will lead to a performance by The Kettle Choir, and our keynote speaker Lieutenant-General, the Honourable Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d) speaking on Mental Health and Invisible Wounds. Get your tickets here.

Please join us in our new space at 1720 Grant Street to meet our staff and learn about our programs. RSVP info@scyofbc.org.

Celebrate 20 years of welcome, belonging, and opportunity that is Kinbrace Community Society (1998 – 2018). Get more information and register online here.

Join FIPA staff, board, members, and others in the information and privacy community at FIPA’s 2018 Annual General Meeting. The event will feature a talk by Vincent Gogolek who will be reflecting on his time with BC FIPA. Get more information here. To register, send an email to fipa@fipa.bc.ca with your name, email, phone number, and membership status.

  • Wednesday, June 20 (5:45 – 7:00 pm): YWCA Vancouver presents 2018 AGM & Tuning In: Examining Trends on Millennials, Masculinity and Gender Equality at  UBC Robson Square, Vancouver.

Please join us for YWCA Metro Vancouver’s Annual General Meeting. We are excited to welcome Shachi Kurl, Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, to deliver a keynote that will examine trends on millennials, masculinity and gender equality. Get more information and register online here.

  • Friday, June 29 (12:30 – 2:00 pm): Disability Alliance BC presents Snack & Chat: Filing Income Taxes – Tips and Benefits at #204 – 456 West Broadway, Vancouver.

Come to DABC’s 3rd Snack and Chat, and learn about income tax filing and the benefits of filing your income taxes. To register, please contact Val at 604-875-0188 or feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org. Lunch will be provided. Get more information here.

Stay informed:

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