Data Privacy Design Jam: What is meaningful consent in an age of connected devices?

BC FIPA, in partnership with the Vancouver Design Nerds, held a two-day design jam in Ottawa March 5th and 6th. The purpose of this event was to explore issues around meaningful consent in the context of everyday life ranging from personal wearable technologies to smart homes and smart cities and their relationship to big data. With these different scales in mind, we sought to create new models of generating meaningful consent to mitigate the negative impact these technologies have on privacy. The two-day event brought together a diverse group of experts from academia and industry to advocates and activists working in this space to find creative solutions through a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach.

Data Privacy Design Jam report title page

The final ‘prototypes’ that emerged after the second day varied in terms of how they approached meaningful consent, but an underlying theme that intersected all four groups was a focus on empowering individuals to take control over their personal information through various methods .

It is important to note that this project in itself is not the final stage in our work on meaningful consent and connected societies. Rather, this project has become a ‘jumping-off point’ that will launch future research and events to further address these issues. More specifically, we have begun to explore the feasibility of hosting another design jam with everyday consumers from various backgrounds rather than expert participants. The process we used could be adapted for either a representative sample of the general public or a predefined select target audience. By providing a similar initial problem and thought processes, the results would provide useful insights to how the public views issues of consent in a modern context.

Download the full report here.

BC FIPA would like to thank the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for the opportunity to explore this important issue through the Contributions Program.

The Connected Car: Who is in the driver’s seat?

For more than twenty years, the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association has relied on the support of our community to provide resources, educational programming, and one-on-one advice. By making a contribution to the Association in exchange for this resource, you’re helping us provide another two decades of service to Canadians and supporting more publications like this in the future. There is no minimum donation amount. Every bit helps.

Click here to make a donation. We hope you consider supporting the Association, but more importantly, we hope you find The Connected Car: Who is in the driver’s seat? a valuable and practical addition to your research activities!

Click here to download the full report.

Let us know what you think: If you have comments, questions, or concerns about The Connected Car: Who is in the driver’s seat? please send them to FIPA at

Read it now! The Connected Car: Who is in the Driver’s Seat? is available for download



The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) has released a year-long study on privacy, consumer choice and onboard vehicle technology. The Connected Car: Who is in the Driver’s Seat? was written by privacy lawyer Philippa Lawson and generously funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

The Connected Car: Who is in the Driver’s Seat? looks at how vehicles have changed from simple means of transportation to computers on wheels able to navigate, diagnose vehicle health, monitor driver behavior, accommodate usage-based insurance programs and provide customized on-board infotainment services.

The same technologies that allow for safer, more convenient and more entertaining cars enable the collection and processing of enormous amounts of data. Much of this data is personal information, and some of it reveals intensely private details of a person’s life. Some data can be used to track and profile customers for marketing and other purposes. The non-essential collection of data for data-mining and market research opens the door to a range of privacy risks that include security breaches, malicious access and state surveillance.

The Connected Car report finds that the usage-based insurance programs now offered in Ontario and Quebec generally comply with Canadian privacy law, but automakers providing Connected Car services are failing to meet their legal obligations. Too often, consumers are given limited choice when it comes to the use and disclosure of their personal data collected by Connected Cars. Click here to see a summary table of our privacy analysis.

Frequent Asked Questions

Recent polls show that Canadians are concerned about privacy in the context of Connected Cars. A March 2015 poll conducted for the Canadian Automobile Association found that 50% of respondents thought that Connected Car technologies put their privacy at risk while offering little benefit to consumers and only 28% thought benefits outweighed privacy risks. Only 37% of respondents would agree to monitoring in exchange for an insurance discount, while 53% would not. At 74%, most respondents thought car makers should be required to design technology that would mean consumers wouldn’t have to choose between the benefits of technology and protecting privacy.

The good news is that Connected Cars are still at a stage in their development where there’s time to address these privacy challenges. With Connected Cars set to dominate North American markets in the coming years, now is the time to get serious about setting industry standards and putting them in place. FIPA looks forward to working with automakers, technology firms, policy makers, the insurance sector, government and the public is bringing these report recommendations to life:

  1. Establishing data protection regulations for the Connected Car industry.
  2. Developing Canada-wide data protection standards for usage-based insurance.
  3. Involving privacy experts in the design stage of Intelligent Transportation Systems, including Connected Vehicle research projects.
  4. Adopting Privacy by Design Principles and Related Tools, including:
  • Establishing a Privacy Management Program
  • Identifying and Avoiding Unintended Uses
  • Being Open and Transparent
  • Respect for User Privacy: Keep it User-Centric
  • Working with device manufacturers, OS / Platform Developers, Network Providers, Application Developers, Data Processors to integrate controls and data minimization techniques.

There has never been a better time to put privacy protection in your driveway.



The BC Services Card, and why you should be concerned about it

What is the BC Services Card?

It’s an ID card that combines both the drivers license and the provincial health care card.


Is that all it does? Doesn’t sound too scary to me.

Right now that is all it does. However, it is a key part of the ‘Government 2.0’ plan, which will link large amounts of personal information both inside and outside government. The government plans on using it as the principal tool for gaining access to most government services. Not only that, but they are also talking about combining it with your credit cards, transit pass and other non-government information. That is a lot of access to a lot of personal information.


It’s a government system. It should be secure, right?

Sadly no. The BC government has had lots of problems with its information management systems. In her recent report on the data breach at the Ministry of Health (one of two bodies currently linked into the BC Services Card), Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found that the ministry had essentially no audit capability, so they had no idea who had access to health information or what they did with it. People working at the Ministry also had access to way more personal health information than they needed to do their jobs.

Maybe the government should fix the problems at the Ministry of Health before moving on grandiose plans to link a lot more of our sensitive personal information.


What do you mean when you call the BC Services Card an ‘ID card’?

The BC Services Card is the first of a number of provincial cards that will be rolled out in the next few years. BC gave the contract to a company called SecureKey, without allowing anyone else to bid. That company is also providing the federal government with ID management services, and has been given a similar untendered contract by the government of Alberta. Other provinces are expected to follow in due course.

Once these cards are rolled out in each province and linked through a single private company, this will amount to having a national ID Card.


But the BC government’s other IT projects work well, don’t they?

There have been some spectacular failures in recent years, usually with these big data linkage projects. The government is spending millions of dollars to replace the scrapped $100 million BCeSIS educations data base, and the government’s own consultants have reported on how the hundreds of millions spent on the Integrated Case Management system still haven’t produced a working system.


What do we know about the BC Services Card?

Not a lot. The government has been reluctant to provide information about the project and what it will mean for British Columbians. BC FIPA has submitted a number FOI requests about the project going back to 2011, but very little information has come out.


What does the Privacy Commissioner have to say?

After taking a look at the card program, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she wanted the government to conduct “fulsome” consultations before proceeding with further phases of the implementation of the card. However the Card continues to be rolled out.


Can I say ‘no’ to the Card?

The ID Card is already being rolled out, but it won’t be mandatory until 2018. In the meantime, the BC Government is holding a public consultation to find out what people think.


OK, now you have me concerned. What can I do about this?

You can make your voice heard!

The government is running a consultation on the Card. You can take the
survey at and voice your specific concerns. The survey does have space for your comments.


Or write to the province directly at:

Victoria, BC V8V 9L9


Let them know that you have a problem with the latest boondoggle in the making.


Download this article (pdf).