Digital rights have gained increased attention in the public eye in recent years, and are a growing focus of CJFE’s work. In March 2013, CJFE hosted an online discussion about the issue of digital privacy rights, which was highlighted in our 2012-2013 Review of Free Expression in Canada.
But even with all of the recent talk about digital surveillance, privacy and your rights, how much do you actually know about online privacy? Do you control what information you post online, and are you aware of who can access it? CJFE intern Spencer Livingstone has put together a quiz to let you test your knowledge of digital rights.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to take the quiz!
To read more about your right to online privacy in Canada, read our Privacy, Free Expression & You: Seven things you should know, first published in The Review. Download the PDF, or read the article online below.
We’ve put together a short quiz based on information discussed at our Q&A and covered in The Review, to help you test just how well you know your digital rights. Explanations for each of the answers can be found at the bottom of the page.
Please note: some of these questions may seem subjective. The responses that we have labeled as correct are our answers, in accordance with that which is constitutionally guaranteed to all Canadian citizens and our position as a freedom of expression organization.
Quiz Answer Key
Question 1: Is there a connection between privacy and free expression?
When people’s activities can be monitored, they may not feel comfortable acting the same way as when acting privately. Many individuals may give up their privacy in favour of expressing themselves publicly (think about what many people choose to post publicly on Twitter and Facebook), but the important factor here is that it is a choice. It is important for individuals to have the ability to access information, communicate, and act privately without being monitored.
Question 2: Why is online privacy important?
According to Commissioner Cavoukian, “Privacy isn’t about hiding. It is about individual dignity, autonomy, & the right to exercise significant control over your own person.” The decision to publish personal information and communications publicly, or keep them private, is a choice. It is crucial to understand that every person has the right to their online privacy, regardless of whether or not they have something to hide.
Question 3: Is there any need for people’s online activities to remain anonymous?
There are many arguments for why individuals should have the ability to operate anonymously online, but journalists’ sources and whistleblowers are an important example of the importance of anonymity and privacy protection. Sources and whistleblowers are often targeted for the information they reveal. Online anonymity helps these sources of information feel safe enough to share important information without fear of being traced and exposed.
Question 4: Is the Canadian government restricted in how it can collect the personal information of its citizens?
PIPEDA became law in 2000, guaranteeing Canadians, among other things, the right to know what organizations collect their personal information; those that do collect information must do so by fair and lawful means and protect the information with appropriate security measures. However, it only applies to private sector organizations – not the government.
Although outdated, the Privacy Act came into effect in 1983, requiring the government to only collect private information if it is directly necessary for a program. The individual must be notified of what is going on, the information cannot be disclosed unless the individual consents to it, and the individual may request access to the information kept on them.
Question 5: What information that you put on your Facebook page can be shared with the government?
Facebook has settings that can be altered so that only a person’s friends may view the page. You can find more information on how to lockdown your Facebook page here. While this certainly helps, it does not do everything. Facebook revealed that, in the second half of 2012 alone, they received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from the U.S. government, asking for information on between 18,000 and 19,000 user accounts. Although this is a tiny fraction of the entire Facebook user population, the fact remains that your information, when put on Facebook, belongs to the social networking company, and not you.
Question 6: Do search engines retain data regarding its user’s searches?
With each search, the mediating website has access to the user’s IP address and individual searches, which they retain. Major search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo, have revealed that they keep track of personal data in order to, among other things, provide better services, thwart security threats, and to keep people from skewing search ranking results. However, they hold onto the information for so long (Google for nine months, Yahoo for up to eighteen months), that it begs the question as to whether they need to keep track of their user’s information for so long. This becomes even more interesting when a person uses the same company as both an email host and a search engine, because they can pair a name and information passed over email with a person’s search history and IP address.