Canada's Privacy Czar Tells Advertisers to Curb Online Tracking

Tackling the country's Big Brother media culture, the feds are targeting marketers that spy on Canadian Internet consumers and social networks that help them do that.

TORONTO – Canada’s privacy czar has told online advertisers to no longer target Canadian Internet users with browser tracking cookies without letting consumers know how and why they're being followed.

Federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, who earlier fingered Facebook for personal data violations in Canada, unveiled new guidelines that restrict how marketers spy on Canadians online.

“The use of online behavioral advertising has exploded and we’re concerned that Canadians’ privacy rights aren’t always being respected,” Ms. Stoddart said in a statement about online intrusions by advertisers.

“Many Canadians don’t know how they’re being tracked – and that’s no surprise because, in too many cases, they have to dig down to the bottom of a long and legalistic privacy policy to find out,” she added. If online advertisers don’t respect privacy rights, they could be targeted with enforcement action, Stoddart warned.

The new federal guidelines call for Canadians to be told they are being snooped on with tracking cookies, and why their personal information is being harvested.

And marketers must limit how long they retain data, and avoid collecting sensitive medical or health data.

Stoddart also said children should not to be tracked as they take to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

“Some people like receiving ads targeted to their specific interests. Others are extremely uncomfortable with the notion of their online activities being tracked. People’s choices must be respected,” she added.