#CyberFLASH: University of Guelph professor highlights Internet privacy issues

images-126GUELPH — As “Data Privacy Day” approaches, a University of Guelph professor is urging people to be aware of the “digital footprint” they are leaving online.

Rozita Dara, an assistant professor with the school of computer science at the University of Guelph, studies privacy and “big data,” and is a former employee of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

She says most people are not aware of how much personal information they may be scattering online though sites such as Google, Facebook and YouTube, and just what that information is being used for.

“We have to consider that our data is kind of currency, it has value, but it’s ours. So we have to be very careful about how we share it,” said Dara in a recent interview.

“What (people) put out there has value to the government for surveillance purposes, or to industries that can make money from it.”

These issues will be under the spotlight during “Data Privacy Day,” on Jan. 28.

Tola St. Matthew-Daniel, a spokesperson for the U.S.-based National Cyber Security Alliance, wrote in an email that the day is designed to “help consumers better understand how to protect their personal information and encourage businesses to be more transparent about how they collect and use consumer data.”

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