#CyberFLASH: Privacy watchdog to look at electoral reform survey amid privacy concerns


Canada’s privacy watchdog intends to look into the Trudeau government’s new online survey on electoral reform after concerns have been raised about invasion of privacy.

Canadians must be willing to disclose detailed personal information if they want their views on electoral reform to be included in the results of the online questionnaire.

The MyDemocracy.ca survey does not ask respondents to reveal their names but it does ask them to disclose gender, age, highest level of education attained, occupational work area, combined household income, first language learned, level of interest in politics and current events and whether they identify as a member of a specific minority group.

Respondents are also asked to provide their postal codes so that their region of residence can be determined — a request that’s particularly raising eyebrows.

In many instances, supplying a postal code would be enough to identify the individual, according to Ottawa University technology law expert Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce law.

A spokeswoman for privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said Tuesday that his office can’t comment because it hasn’t yet looked into the survey in detail.

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#CyberFLASH: Trudeau government putting new emphasis on cybersecurity


typing-image-genericThe neglected federal cybersecurity file made a surprising appearance in several of the ministerial mandate letters publicly released last week, buried under hot-topic campaign promises like the Syrian refugee project and the legalization of marijuana.

Observers say it’s a good sign that Canada is starting to take the threat of cybercrime more seriously.

“There’s a lack of a strategy and a lack of clarity of who in the government is responsible for what,” said former CSIS assistant director of intelligence Ray Boisvert, who has criticized the Canadian government in the past for not doing enough to protect Canada’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

“We (Canada) are a little complacent and in a sort of ‘stand by and watch others’ mode — which I think is globally a problem — and unlike other defence issues there’s no hiding under the U.S. umbrella, because cyber touches everyone, everywhere,” said Boisvert. “There are no walls or barriers of isolation for Canada, no hiding behind our three oceans.”

The planned review of cybersecurity, which covers seven federal departments, will assess Canada’s critical infrastructure against cyber threats. There’s no word yet on when the review might take place or how much it might cost.

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