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The federal election is just around the corner and digital privacy issues have never been more front and centre. From Cambridge Analytica to online tracking, targeted advertising and beyond, surveillance technologies are being used to influence our lives, behaviors, and even our elections in unprecedented ways.

With so much of daily life taking place online, what do you need to know about your privacy rights, and who to trust online before voters head to the polls in October?

At CIRA’s annual Canadians Connected event on September 25, you’ll hear from one of the world’s leading privacy experts about the key privacy and digital policy issues you should know about ahead of the federal election.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian is the former Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario and our keynote speaker for this year’s Canadians Connected event. We asked her a few questions about what Canadians need to know about privacy before the October 19th general election.

What is your definition of privacy and why does it matter?

Privacy does not equal secrecy — privacy equals control: personal control over the use and disclosure of your personal information. It’s YOUR information. Someone else may have custody and control over your information, but it doesn’t belong to them — it belongs to you, so you must have access to all of your personal data, and ideally, personal control. 

We're heading into the federal election where issues like misinformation and data protection are top of mind for Canadians. What issues should Canadians be watching out for in the news and in debates?

People should have their eyes peeled for misinformation: I’m not saying this is easy to do, but if some news strikes you as lacking in credibility, go with your gut and question it. Ask for the source of the information so that you can determine its credibility.

Unfortunately, we must be guided by the saying, “trust but verify” do not simply accept information at face value if you suspect that it lacks credibility or is stretching the truth. Always look under the hood!

The Privacy by Design concept is about embedding privacy into every aspect of your organization. With this in mind, why is it important for Canadians to know and advocate for their privacy rights?

Privacy by Design is all about proactively embedding privacy into all of your operations — your policies, your technology — bake it into the code, bake it into the data architecture! People need to be aware of their privacy rights and the vital need to advocate for them because privacy forms the foundation of our freedom: if you value your freedom, then you value privacy: you can’t have one without the other!

What's one resource you would recommend for people to learn about privacy issues in the election?

There is an excellent daily news feature called the MGCS Daily Privacy News that I would recommend, that often covers misinformation in elections: [email protected].

Want to learn more about your privacy rights, and who to trust online?
Register for Canadians Connected  and join us on September 25 in Ottawa or via webcast.