Federal Privacy Watchdog warns of increased danger of “surveillance capitalism”


Ottawa — The Federal Privacy Oversight Agency warns Canadians about the growing threat of surveillance capitalism, the use of personal information by large corporations.

In his annual report submitted to Congress on Thursday, privacy commissioner Daniel Terien said state surveillance (a major concern after the 9/11 attacks) has been somewhat curtailed in recent years.

On the other hand, personal data has emerged as a very valuable asset, and no one has used it as much as the tech giant behind web search and social media accounts, he said.

“Today, privacy conversations are dominated by the growing power of technology giants like Facebook and Google. These giants seem to know us better than ourselves.” The report states. “Terms like surveillance capitalism and surveillance economy are part of the dialogue.”

The risks of surveillance capitalism were fully demonstrated in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but his office was not authorized to order Facebook to follow the recommendations and is now subject to proceedings in federal court. Yes, Mr. Terien said.

In addition, the law did not allow commissioners to impose monetary penalties to discourage this type of corporate behavior.

Last year as a privacy commissioner, Therrien encouraged the federal government to make some improvements to its planned legislation on private sector data processing practices when it is reintroduced in the coming weeks.

Artificial intelligence, the latest frontier of surveillance capitalism, has great potential in addressing some of today’s most pressing issues, but it implements it in a way that respects privacy, equality, and other human rights. Therrien warned that it was necessary.

“A survey of our offices on the use of facial recognition technology with Clearview AI was an example of commercial AI deployments well below privacy law.”

Commissioners violate private sector privacy laws by creating a data bank of billions of images scraped from the Internet without Clearview AI agreeing to fuel commercial facial recognition software. I found that I was doing it.

Digital technologies like AI, which rely on the collection and analysis of personal data, are at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and key to socio-economic development, the report said. “But they pose a great risk to rights and values.”

To derive value from the data, the law should address new, unexpected, but responsible uses of information for the public good, the report added. However, given the frequent occurrence of human rights abuses, additional flexibility should be within the rights-based framework.

Therrien emphasized another trend. Increasing public-private partnerships and using corporate expertise to support state organizations, such as the association of RCMP with Clearview AI.

Privacy issues arising from public-private partnerships were also evident in the number of government-led pandemic initiatives, including digital technology last year, the report added. “These issues emphasized the need for greater coherence across public and private sector legislation.”

NS Jim Bron Skill

Canadian press