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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, July 27, 2018 Related reading: Privacy inspection tool finds ad trackers on sensitive nonprofit websites




On Monday, the Toronto Star reported that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association urged Toronto City Council to do away with a plan to install sensors in public places that detect gunshots.

And then tragedy hit the same city, leaving two young children dead and many others hurt.

It’s not clear that having had those sensors would have been able to stop the madman on time to save lives. But events like this shake our beliefs and make us question whether more high-tech policing and more surveillance might be a good thing.

I, personally, am undecided on the issue of this type of increased surveillance in our cities. From what I understand, there’s not an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that it is effective in the United States, where it has been deployed already. Of course, the companies making and selling the technology would argue otherwise, and they have plenty of anecdotal stories to suggest they are reducing gun-related crime.

What’s the right level of privacy trade-off? If the sensor can only detect gunshots and not anything like a conversation, is it a technology that privacy-mindful people might adopt as worthwhile? It’s still early days with this new tech, so I’m sure plenty of questions will arise and eventually get answered. But, in the wake of this week’s tragic news from Toronto, I can’t help but feel that the CCLA may not be as persuasive this time around. Events like this hit home and make us think first and foremost about keeping safe.

If you have thoughts on this, please let me know. Would love to hear from you.

1 Comment

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  • comment Aron Ashmead • Aug 9, 2018
    I think everyone (not just Privacy professionals) has a different tolerance for the trade off between Privacy vs Safety.. what I am willing to give up may different from the next person.  I do  like the idea of technology that can improve our overall safety, but we know that technology can be abused and hacked/altered beyond the original scope of the technologies intent for others gain, and I also like my privacy..  
    Where technologies could be invasive, perhaps an audit of the technologies could be done at specific intervals, by a third party to ensure it maintains its function and does not grow beyond that (either by design from the manufacturer or by malicious intent to steal information from a hacker).  It increases the cost of operation for sure, but maybe generating jobs?  I am not an economist in the slightest so I can't effectively comment on the other ramifications of such a service or audit group..