#CyberFLASH: Clicking ‘I accept’ doesn’t mean you surrender right to know how a company uses your data

mobile-securityChances are you’re reading this article with some kind of smart device. And if you’re doing so in public, there’s probably a bunch of people just like you nearby, staring into the glow of their tiny screens, swiping through profiles and tweets, tapping away at a game, or organizing a date.

And the chances are also pretty good that years ago, months ago, weeks ago or even today, most of them probably just clicked “I agree” rather than read the confusing fine print of the terms of service for those apps.

But have you ever thought about what companies do with that data once you share it with them? Do you ever wonder if they track your location, or your social networks or something else? Do they hand it over to other companies? To the government? If so, under what conditions?

If any of those thoughts have ever crossed your mind — and there are good reasons why they should — there’s a new, easy-to-use tool to help you get some answers.

The Citizen Lab and Open Effect recently launched a revamped version of their online tool, Access My Info, which empowers Canadians to easily exercise their legal right to understand what data is out there about them, whether that information is shared and, if so, with whom.

All you have to do is visit the online portal, choose the service or organization you want information from, fill in your account details, and after only a few minutes, the Access My Info tool automatically generates a PDF with a detailed list of questions that can be sent to the service provider. Under Canadian privacy laws, the organizations you request this information from must comply or risk being fined.

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