May 2013 in review: Privacy czar urges update to PIPEDA

As I wrote in my overview of the year, security and the state of the Canadian wireless industry were among the highlights of 2013, and the news in May was a prime example.

One month before the leaks of former U.S. security contract Edward Snowden burst upon the world, Canada’s federal privacy commissioner was warning that our 12 year- old privacy law had to be modernized.

“It is increasingly clear that the law is not up to the task of meeting the challenges of today – and certainly not those of tomorrow,” Jennifer Stoddart said prophetically at a conference.

Stoddart – who retired at the beginning of December – called for the updating of the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA) because its goal of balancing privacy and business needs is not being met.

Later in the year, in her final annual report to Parliament, Stoddart reported an audit found weaknesses in key privacy and security practices that led to taxpayer information not being protected as it should, with thousands of Canada Revenue files being accessed inappropriately for years without detection.

For the second year in a row, new all-time highs were set for both privacy complaints about federal organizations submitted by Canadians and data breaches reported by departments and agencies to her office for the fiscal year ending March 31.
As for network security, we reported on an academic paper suggesting organizations set a honey trap for would-be hackers – a list of phoney passwords held in a directory, just like a regular list of passwords. But anyone who finds the list and uses a honeyword trips an intrusion alarm.

Meanwhile, in wireless news Telus Corp. won court approval to buy financially-troubled  startup Mobilicity – which, as we’ll see, didn’t last very long – and Rogers Communications struck a deal to buy unused spectrum from Quebec’s Videotron.

Also in May:

Intel Corp. named chief operating officer Brian Krzanich as the successor to outgoing CEO Paul Otellini. Otellini leaves a chequered record: On the one hand the company grew during his eight-year tenure with increasingly powerful laptop and server processors. On the other hand Intel CPUs aren’t in many smart phones or tablets, which where people are spending their money.

Information Builders is one of those business intelligence IT companies that, because it is privately-held, quietly goes around collecting enterprise-sized customers with few headlines. I did a video interview with the company’s vice-president and chief marketing officer.

When a publicly-traded company runs into trouble there are two solutions: Be acquired or go private. Dell Inc. and BMC Software were two IT firms to go that route, though it took Dell a bit longer.

Cisco Systems Inc. made a number of investments in and partnerships with Canadian universities this year, One of them was $1 million over five years to the University of British Columbia to help fund projects extending the capabilities of Power over Ethernet.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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