Monday, December 27, 2004

Your daily digital data droppings

Canwest Global is doing a series of feature-length articles on privacy between Christmas and New Year. For the first one, I was "shadowed" by a reporter to look at the sorts of data that we leave in our wake as we go throughout our daily lives.

Our every move is tracked and recorded:

"Short of becoming a hermit, there's little Canadians can do to avoid the pervasive climate of surveillance that surrounds them, says Richard Foot. However, there is protection in knowing what information is sought, how it is collected, and why.

The Ottawa Citizen Monday, December 27, 2004

David Fraser walks out his front door on a midwinter morning bound for work. His movements and activities are under surveillance, tracked by networks of people and distant computers in his own city and around the planet.

Mr. Fraser isn't a wanted man, nor is he a foreign spy. He's an ordinary Canadian inhabiting a world so wired by ubiquitous technology that almost everything he does is monitored and measured in breathtaking detail.

Mr. Fraser, a Halifax privacy lawyer, isn't concerned about the surveillance itself. What worries him is that most Canadians simply don't know their lives are so closely watched by the silent eyes of business and government. Like federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, he calls public ignorance about the vast, daily exchange of personal information the greatest threat to privacy in Canada today.

'The critical thing is that people must be aware of it,' Mr. Fraser says. 'Yet most people simply don't understand much private information they leave behind them each day, during their ordinary routines.'...

The Series

Tomorrow: Biometric wizardry poised to remove last shreds of anonymity. Wednesday: School security: When safety concerns override privacy rights. Thursday: Your health records in cyberspace. Friday: Lives and habits of Canadian consumers up for grabs."

I'll post links to the stories as the appear online.

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