Data Privacy Day and Online Reputation

January 25, 2012 | John P.

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Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian stated on January 25, 2012 that people’s awareness of their online anonymity and privacy on the Internet is not realistic with what is actually happening. Technology through the use of algorithms and analytic tools has progressed to the degree where different pieces of information that one leaves online about oneself at different locations can be pulled together to develop a profile about a particular individual and highlight that individual’s online activities.

Commissioner Cavoukian has advised Ontario’s online users to be aware of the type of personal information that they are sharing and how it might be used given that people can share their information in various ways including through blogs and social networking sites. Dr. Cavoukian also urged organizations to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection and usage in an overt and straightforward manner and to offer privacy protection as the default setting.

The Commissioner is hosting a public forum on Friday January 27, 2012 entitled Beware of "Surveillance by Design:" Standing Up for Freedom and Privacy in which prominent individuals from different fields will discuss the potential effects on privacy by several proposed Canadian government bills enabling police with “lawful access” to people’s telecommunication activities. Further information on the public forum is available at the Commissioner’s website: .

The Commissioner’s public forum is preceding the annual International Data Privacy Day on January 28, 2012. Microsoft Corporation is using International Data Privacy Day to offer assistance to Canadians and others to protect their privacy and optimally manage their online profiles and sustain a good reputation. Microsoft surveyed five thousand people (adults and children) from Canada, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the United States and found that these individuals need to pay closer attention to how their online activities will affect their digital reputations. The Canadian results showed that 57% of adults and 55% of children aged 8 to 17 years old did not take into account the long-term effect of their digital activities on their individual reputation. Similarly, only 37% of Canadian adults and 41% of Canadian children considered the long-term consequences that their online activities might have towards other people’s reputations.




Anyone interested in protecting online privacy, managing online profiles and maintaining good reputations should visit Microsoft’s Data Privacy Day webpage to access a variety of free resources, including Take Charge of Your Online Reputation and Safer Social Networking. One should use search engines to search one’s name on the Internet to determine presence, search blogs and social networks to establish what others have said. Use common sense in publishing information on the Internet, treat others with the same expected courtesy, and consider separating professional and personal profiles on the Internet, where applicable.