Canada’s privacy watchdog just released some pretty grim details about the state of Canadians’ privacy. The so-called “Internet of Things” is collecting all sorts of sensitive data about us and quite possibly mismanaging it; yet it seems that there is not much, as individuals, we can do to protect our information.
Users of connected devices are forced to click ‘agree’ when signing on for the first time. Without saying yes, the devices cannot be used as intended. But what are we saying yes to? We want to believe that our privacy is being safeguarded by these companies, but it is time to take a closer look at their privacy policies. They are vague, and in some cases, have not been properly proof-read and still contain placeholders where specific privacy policies should be spelled out.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is clearly concerned about this. The Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, has stated that “[a]s this technology expands, it is imperative that companies do a better job of explaining their personal information handling practices.” The question remains as to how this can be accomplished. Canadians are quick to adopt new technology but, on their own, lack the resources to influence major change in the ways in which their privacy is protected. This role may be best suited for a federal body with the power to implement and enforce privacy standards. Good thing for Canadians, the OPC is proactively investigating and making recommendations on the issue, thus putting companies on notice that enforcement will soon follow.
In any event, before clicking ‘agree’ be sure to read the fine print.