– Everyday life tracked by society's prying eye

Toronto Star, Canada – – Everyday life tracked by society's prying eye. Privacy vanishing with surveillance Ordinary actions leave a digital trail

The Star kicks off a three-day series on privacy today by documenting a work week in the life of the Besharats, a typical Canadian family with roots in Toronto that stretch back 30 years. Their day-to-day routines resemble those of most Canadians, but also show how easily we reveal an enormous amount of information about ourselves that others can simply take.

The problem isn't just that some information gatherers — identity thieves, Internet spammers and the like — may have bad intentions.

Government authorities and businesses, in trying to serve you better, are increasingly using your personal information to make assumptions about you, your health, your family and your financial history.

And these assumptions are often wrong. Mistakes and abuses can occur and can lead to discrimination, restricted travel and denial of service. They could even lead to wrongful detention and arrest. Long-term repercussions can be paranoia and insecurity, a growing perception that we are no longer in control of our lives.

“Privacy — the right to control access to ourselves and to personal information about us — is at the very core of our lives,” wrote federal privacy commissioner George Radwanski in his recent annual report to Parliament. “The truth is that we all do have something to hide, not because it's criminal or even shameful, but simply because it's private.”

We voluntarily give up some of our privacy for convenience, efficiency and security. Technologies that gather and analyze data about us are used to improve health care, fight crime and diseases such as SARS, promote commerce and open up access to government services.  [Privacy Digest]

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