Whose Data? aims to make it easier for Canadians to answer key questions about who owns -- and what options we have to control -- data collected about us via common online (eg. social media platforms) and offline (eg. health records) activities.
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Thank you for visiting the Whose Data? project repository.
This document (the README file) is the best place to get an overview of the project, and how to get involved.
Please note that this is a new project, and lots more info is on the way!
What is this?
It’s time consuming and complicated for Canadians to find good information about who owns and uses data that is commonly collected about us — and what options we have to take control of it.
Every day, we ‘like’ posts on social media, check apps to see when the next bus is coming, tap our credit cards, walk past security cameras… and the river of information generated and stored about us swells.
This data may be about me, but whose is it, really? What control over it and its use do I have?
Without a shared understanding, it’s hard to have informed discussions and make decisions about the way we actually want ownership and control of our data to work.
Whose Data? helps solve this problem by putting information about who owns — and what options we have to control — data collected about Canadians in one place.
Making the this information more accessible isn't a quick fix. It won't change our habits, company practices or government policies. But it can help increase the number of Canadians who understand the current state of affairs, and have informed opinions about what we want when it comes to how our personal data is treated.
That means more Canadians who are ready and able to help build the connected world we want, by engaging in important discussions -- like how we want data collected about us by 'smart cities' to be protected and what informed consent about personal data collection really means in our digital society.
How does it work?
For each company or organization we research, we aim to answer two questions:
(1) Do I legally own the data this org has about me? (2) Can I see all the data they have about me, for free?
We may add more questions in the future.
We call a company or organization we’re researching a ‘case’.
We aim to have each case verified through 3 types of research:
- secondary research (aka surfing the web)
- primary research (aka contacting the company/organization directly)
- expert review (aka feedback from an expert in the field, such as law or policy)
Once secondary research is available, a case can be put up on the website -- www.whosedata.ca -- but it won't be verified
How can I help?
Whose Data? is an open source project, and we need people like you to help grow and improve!
If you want it to help make it easier for Canadians to find out who owns our data, there’s something you can do to contribute.
Please note that maintaining a positive and supportive environment for everyone who wants to participate is absolutely essential. When you join, please respect the code of conduct in all interactions on and offline.
There are lots of ways to contribute: check out the Contributor Guidelines to learn more.
Who are you?
Hi, I'm Sam! I live in Toronto, and I’m fascinated by the influence of technology in my life and in my communities.
The idea for this project was born in 2017, when the discussion about the partnership between Sidewalk Labs (owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company) and Toronto to develop a “neighborhood built from the internet up” took off in earnest in my city and beyond. Many of the questions raised focused on privacy, data ownership, and control.
Who will own/control/have access to the data that is captured by the sensors deployed in this project? Under what terms will that data be shared? For whom and for what purposes? (source)
I have these questions too.
And I also keep getting distracted by another question: who owns, controls, and has access to my data right now?
The answer is frustratingly hard to find. So, I started Whose Data? as an attempt to help answer that question -- and make it easier for more Canadians to do the same.
Thank you! Merci!
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Thanks so much for visiting the Whose Data? project! I hope that you'll join the journey to make it easier for Canadians to understand who owns -- and what options we have to control -- our data.