The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Release: Your online privacy is at risk, Michigan State Researchers show 

Michigan State University recently put out a release about a research study undertaken at their institute. According to the release, entitled "Warning: Your online privacy is at risk, MSU research shows", suggests that website privacy policies may not be worth the electrons they are written on. This isn't a huge surprise. The surprising assertion is that certification by TRUSTe and BBBOnline aren't what they're cracked up to be.

"Consumers need explicit warnings about the threats of identity theft, spam and credit card fraud to deter them from innocently surrendering personal information online. This is the conclusion of a new study of online privacy practices conducted by Nora Rifon and Robert LaRose of Michigan State University.

Consumers who rely on privacy seals such as TRUSTe or BBBOnline to protect their privacy may be lulled into a false sense of security, the researchers said. An analysis of Web sites carrying the seals found that they ask for more personal information and protect it less than sites that have no seals. "

Unfortunately, the release does not link to the study itself, so the assertions are hard to validate.

To me, this highlights one of the benefits of the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act over these voluntary programs. PIPEDA requires that all information collection be reasonable and it further prohibits making it mandatory to provide any personal information that is not necessary for the purposes identified by the organization. Not perfect, but better.

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