Tag Archives: privacy

Sharx: Canada’s credit hell

Sharx Pool Bar at Ste. Catherine and Guy

Sharx Pool Bar at Ste. Catherine and Guy

Sharx, a pool/bowling bar on Ste. Catherine St. W.,  has a reputation as an elegant, relaxing place to spend an evening and have fun with your friends. It’s a perennial favourite in the Mirror’s Best of Montreal under the “best pool hall” category, which it won again this year.

But thanks to an article in the New York Times on Sunday, it now has the additional honour of being the most credit-unfriendly place in Canada.

It’s not Sharx’s fault, but apparently, according to a study done in 2002 based off data from Canadian Tire credit cards, 47% of people who used their cards here missed a credit card payment over the next 12 months. That’s higher than anywhere else in the country.

(Of course, this only applies to people who use Canadian Tire credit cards at Sharx. Perhaps those who use cash or bank-issued cards are more trustworthy with credit?)

Thankfully, such fine-tuned criticism of people’s credit card histories isn’t the norm (yet), because of concern from the industry that people might resent the companies knowing so much about them.

Especially when they can’t always be trusted with that data.

Facebook destroys privacy, eats babies

So apparently some intern law students have filed a complaint against Facebook for having the audacity to allow people to share their personal information with others.

Facebook certainly has privacy issues, as I’ve previously explored, and there’s no doubt that they’re trying to exploit this information for all it’s worth.

But the fact remains that, as Facebook points out, all this information is shared voluntarily. If you don’t want people to know your religion, don’t publicize it online.

The Facebook problem is a problem of user education, not Big Evil Corporations. People need to learn that as the Internet becomes more efficient at connecting and compiling information, they can’t rely on privacy through obscurity anymore. We must assume that anything we type into our computer and send over the Internet will eventually be plastered on a billboard for our parents, employers and ex-girlfriends to see and mock. And we must be vigilant about keeping our private information private. No matter how fun it might seem to break that rule just once.

TWIM: Facebook Beacon – threat or menace?

This week’s bluffer’s guide, courtesy of yours truly, is about Facebook Beacon, the outside-website-integration idea that provoked a lot of ruckus among techies because it wasn’t as clearly opt-in as it should have been. That, in turn, prompted a petition from MoveOn.org, media coverage, “block beacon” instruction sites and, eventually, a backtrack and apology from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Some privacy advocates are still concerned that Facebook is receiving the information even if it’s not publicizing it anymore without explicit permission.

Journalists don’t check ID

Anonymous blogger “Emma”, who was recently approached (via email) by Radio-Canada and asked to identify herself for a story, waxes philosophical about the idea of anonymous blogging, especially in the wake of the “Elodie Gagnon-Martin” scandal where an ADQ blogger turned out to be … maybe … an ADQ staffer of another name.

As a journalist who writes about blogs (and for that matter other online stories), I see both sides. But what is perhaps being forgotten in all this is the simple matter that journalists don’t check ID. Unless they have some reason to believe that you’re lying to them, they’ll take your word for it that you are who you say you are. Unless you say your name is Hugh Jass (and even then…) or the name of someone they already know, whatever name you give them is the name they’ll use.

So with that in mind, what’s the point, really? There will always be situations where journalists get tricked and have to apologize, and unless they ask for a driver’s license before every interview there’s no way to ensure that won’t happen again.

Anonymous blogs should be simply identified as such in the news: Take ideas at face value, but trust at your own risk.

Become part of the Google landscape

Google’s Street View is in the process of collecting pictures of Montreal streets. When complete, Google Maps will be able to show street-level photos of major cities in Canada like it does for New York and San Francisco.

Street View works by having someone in a car with lots of cameras on the roof drive through the city and take pictures. They’re then thrown into a giant database which creates a street view you can move around in.

Of course, if you happen to be walking along a street when the car passes by, you’ll become a permanent part of the view of that street. And that can lead to some embarrassing pictures.

Canada’s privacy commissioner has already raised concerns that, because Google doesn’t ask permission before taking photos, they might be violating Canada’s privacy laws.