If you own a car, you need to be able to prove that you have insurance. In Ontario, this is done by carrying around a little pink slip. It’s annoying and takes up valuable real estate in my small wallet. This week, the government announced that it is eventually going to phase out the paper-based program and allow people to carry an electronic version of the pink slip. It sounds like this is already in effect in other provinces. The privacy angle is that you need to hand over your phone to a police officer if you’re ever in a situation when you need to prove that you have insurance. Does that trouble you? I know several privacy thinkers have chimed in saying that it's problematic.
And, if that doesn’t bother you, what about if all the digital bus shelter ad screens in your city also contained a tiny little camera? That’s what is rolling out in Vancouver, and the CBC has a piece on it. You can read more about it below. In the article, an average passerby is asked if it bothers them, and they quickly say no. Am I in the minority here when I say that I’m very much creeped out by this use of technology?
So, all the news this week has me once again thinking about the state of privacy protection in Canada. I’ve said it several times, and I’ll say it again leading up to the federal election: I will vote for the party that lays out the best plan for a digital world. One where privacy protections are meaningful but not stifling. And, from the sounds of another news story this week, I’m not the only one calling on our politicians to make this part of their platform. Global News has a piece in which they write that various chambers of commerce from some of our largest cities have called on the political parties to be transparent about their digital strategy — and their pledges to protect privacy.
The next few weeks should be interesting on many fronts. Many of us have for years hoped that privacy rights could be an election issue, and frankly, historically, that has been a pipe dream. What is exciting for a privacy nerd like me is that for once it looks like privacy may actually be a factor in upcoming public debates. That is a good thing.
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