Publications

The (In)effectiveness of Voluntarily Produced Transparency Reports

This article analyzes the relative effectiveness and limitations of companies’ voluntarily produced transparency reports in promoting change in firm and government behavior. Such reports are published by telecommunications companies and disclose how often and on what grounds government agencies compel customer data from these companies. These reports expose corporate behaviors while simultaneously lifting the veil of governmental secrecy surrounding these kinds of compulsions. Fung, Graham, and Weil’s ‘targeted transparency’ model is used to evaluate the extent to which these reports effect behavior. From the analysis, it is evident that telecommunications companies’ transparency reports are only partially effective; while firms may modify their reports to present more information, these reports do not necessarily induce government to more broadly revealing its own activities. The article ultimately suggests that voluntarily produced transparency reports may become more comparable to one another as a result of either corporate reports evolving in consultation with external stakeholders or following a crisis that prompts government or industry to adopt a given standard. Such standards may positively influence the effectiveness of reports while, at the same time, concealing as much about firm behaviors as they purport to reveal.

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A Guide to Transparency Reporting for Canadian Businesses Using the DIY Transparency Reporting Tool

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 2.34.29 PMThis document explains the rationales for developing the documents involved in holistic transparency reporting, as well as offering a guide so that organizations can generate their own holistic transparency reports.

The DIY Transparency Report Tool is designed to help such smaller organizations develop holistic transparency reports. Such reports comprehensively explain to customers, citizens, and government agencies alike how an organization can, and does, receive and respond to government requests. It does so by guiding organizational members through the process of developing a holistic report, while empowering them to customize their reports to reflect their organizational profile. And, critically, the tool is entirely open source and operates where the organization decides, so sensitive information is never disclosed to another party until the organization makes that decision.

It was funded through the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s .CA Community Investment Program. Through the Community Investment Program, .CA funds projects that demonstrate the capacity to improve the Internet for all Canadians. The .CA team manages Canada’s country code top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. A Member-driven organization, .CA represents the interests of Canada’s Internet community internationally.

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Half Baked: The Opportunity to Secure Cookie-Based Identifiers From Passive Surveillance

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Documents released by Edward Snowden have revealed that the National Security Agency, and its Australian, British, Canadian, and New Zealand equivalents, routinely monitor the Internet for the identifiers that are contained in advertising and tracking cookies. Once collected, the identifiers are stored in government databases and used to develop patterns of life, or the chains of activities that individuals engage in when they use Internet-capable devices. This paper investigates the extent to which contemporary advertising and analytics identifiers that are used in establishing such patterns continue to be transmitted in plaintext following Snowden’s revelations. We look at variations in the secure transmission of cookie-based identifiers across different website categories, and identify practical steps for both website operators and ad tracking companies to take to better secure their audiences and readers from passive surveillance.

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The Governance of Telecommunications Surveillance: How Opaque and Unaccountable Practices and Policies Threaten Canadians

CIRA_Report_Cover-smallThe report examines how contemporary telecommunications surveillance is governed in Canada. In it, we ask how much telecommunications surveillance is occurring in Canada, what actors are enabling the surveillance, to what degree those actors disclose their involvement in (and the magnitude of) surveillance, and what degree of oversight is given to the federal governments’ surveillance practices. We conclude that serious failures in transparency and accountability indicate that corporations are failing to manage Canadians’ personal information responsibly and that government irresponsibility surrounding accountability strains its credibility and aggravates citizens’ cynicism about the political process. In aggregate, these failings endanger both the development of Canada’s digital economy and aggravate the democratic deficit between citizens and their governments.

It was funded through the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s .CA Community Investment Program. Through the Community Investment Program, .CA funds projects that demonstrate the capacity to improve the Internet for all Canadians. The .CA team manages Canada’s country code top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. A Member-driven organization, .CA represents the interests of Canada’s Internet community internationally.

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