4 ways to fix digital privacy in Canada
We see a lot of headlines every day about the growing impact of cybercrime.
Our CEO, David, is often in the media providing explanation and context. While the news isn’t good, there is hope and a way for a more secure digital future for Canadians and people around the world.
With stories of recent major data breaches like Desjardins and Capital One hurting Canadians’ trust, their wallets, and even their identities, it's time for the country to crack down on cybercrime.
Sounds like an insurmountable task, but there are tangible steps we can take in the short- and long-term future that could majorly cut down criminal activity online.
1) REQUIRE MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Any organization that handles sensitive financial info should be required by law to use multi-factor authentication — meaning an additional layer of security beyond the username and password.
There’s a simple reason Canadian companies including banks, telecommunications providers and more haven’t done this: they’re afraid of introducing it and making it a requirement, assuming it will cost them customers who would move to a competitor that doesn’t ask for this advanced security.
But if every firm with sensitive personal or financial information were doing it, MFA would quickly become the norm and raise our overall standard for digital safety.
The Canadian government could get the ball rolling by applying this to federally regulated industries which include telecommunications, banking, transportation — some of the most important parts of a modern society.
2) PASS NEW PRIVACY LAWS WITH REAL TEETH
This is a medium-term goal. Europe is doing privacy right; with the General Data Protection Regulation implemented in 2018, the E.U. is putting power over personal data in the hands of individuals, and fining companies that fail to protect it. We could essentially copy and paste the GDPR legislation into a Canadian framework to start taking privacy seriously.
If our laws had real teeth, Capital One could be fined $1.2 billion for the breach that impacted six million Canadians. Right now, though, we’re toothless.
3) REPLACE THE SIN
We’re talking long-term ambitions, here, but the social insurance number has run its course as the primary digital identifier of Canadians. This dated approach to our digital economy is inadequate in today’s world. Reinventing it is not unrealistic — if tiny countries like Estonia can figure it out, so can we.
The Canadian Banking Association has been urging the government to do this for a while now, in order to finally stop ID fraud.
A proper, secure Digital ID is the foundation on which we can build an identity-fraud safer world.
4) RADICALLY RETHINK THE INTERNET
A longshot ambition, perhaps, but thinking big is how societies advance.
Picture your digital identity as your driver’s licence. Currently, companies copy and store your licence and in doing so, risk losing that info to others who can then impersonate you online.
A new model, proposed by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, would be more like showing your licence when you need to, but otherwise keeping it in your possession. Instead of having our personal info collected and stored by thousands of companies at their discretion, each person would control one “master copy” of their personal data and have the tools to secure it themselves. No more corporations copying and keeping sensitive info without consent, in other words.
Part of the problem is the view that digital privacy issues have spiralled beyond our control, but if we tackle it piecemeal, we can make cybercrime a thing of the past.