Online privacy needs more than crappy videos

ISIQ, the Institut de sécurité de l’information du Québec, sent me a message (I guess I’m real important now) pointing me to their new campaign to educate Quebecers about personal information online. Their press release (unfortunately only in PDF form) is in English, which is nice to see from a Quebec government body, and it promotes their video campaign to teach … children I guess … how to safeguard their information.

The videos leave much to be desired. They’re grammatically incorrect (it’s “The Greens” not “The Green’s”), and they’re dubbed in badly-accented English.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much about the dubbing. I know francophones have to endure far more bad dubbing of stuff they see on TV. But couldn’t they find people who speak English well enough to do it?

Of course, a bigger problem is that while everyone must do their part to protect their privacy, it’s not just the users’ fault that this stuff is happening:

Social networking sites, especially Facebook, simply don’t allow anonymity. Facebook requires you to use your real name, which is great for all those high school classmates looking to find you, but is horrible for privacy protection. Even 12-year-olds know not to use your full name online. Facebook does provide some privacy protection (though not by default), but it still relies on sharing even the most mundane information to keep its users interested.

Wireless Network configuration is perhaps the most unnecessarily complicated procedure I have ever seen in my life. WEP or WPA? Or WPA2? A hex key or ASCII passphrase? Or password? Oh, but it has to be exactly five characters. Or 12. I’ve given up on them, and I have a computer science degree.

Phishing is something that fortunately is being worked on. Perhaps the fact that people actually lose real money in this is what has woken everyone up. Spam filters are being strengthened to weed out suspicious emails, phishing sites are being shut down, websites are improving their security, browsers like Firefox come with built-in phishing warning systems, and companies that involve money like banks and auction sites make it very clear they won’t email you out of the blue with threats to suspend your account if you don’t log in.

There’s still much to be done on this issue, and for that reason I’m glad the ISIQ is trying to get their message out. Hopefully their next campaign will be a little more professional-looking.

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