The Telecom Transparency Project investigates how telecommunications data is monitored, collected, and analyzed for commercial, state security, and intelligence purposes. Core to our work is interrogating the practices of telecommunications service providers (TSPs) (e.g AT&T, Vodafone, and Bell Canada) that route data traffic between communicating parties and the mechanisms that are used by third parties to access the digital information that is endlessly flowing through such companies’ networks.
Our work matters because TSPs enjoy such a trusted position in communications networks. In some cases TSPs interrogate data traffic for network security or operational management reasons. But they also interdict telecommunications data for copyright- and advertising-related reasons. And they can disclose information they collect, retain, or handle to commercial and government-affiliated parties.
Despite their status as operators of critical infrastructure, and providing services essential to contemporary commercial, personal, and political communication, TSPs routinely fail to communicate how they collect information, their explicit reasons for storing telecommunications information, their data handling practices, or the processes they follow before disclosing subscriber-related data to third-parties. Rending telecommunications processes transparent will let citizens, politicians, and businesses alike understand how private or public, and how secure or vulnerable, their communications are to TSP-linked communications interferences and data disclosures.
Christopher Parsons, Managing Director
Dr. Christopher Parsons received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Guelph, and his Ph.D from the University of Victoria. He is currently the Managing Director of the Telecom Transparency Project and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Citizen Lab, in the Munk School of Global Affairs.
Dr. Parsons’ research focuses on how privacy is affected by digitally mediated surveillance, and the normative implications that corporate and government surveillance has in (and on) contemporary Western political systems. He investigates the rationales, processes, practices, and politics of third-party access to telecommunications data. In addition to publishing in academic journals and presses, he routinely presents findings to members of government and the media. Dr. Parsons is also a Privacy by Design Ambassador and a Principal at Block G Privacy and Security Consulting.
Andrew Hilts, Project Associate
Andrew Hilts is the Executive Director and research lead at Open Effect, as well as a Project Associate of the Telecom Transparency Project. His research work and software development focuses on empowering citizens to exercise their digital rights online. He specializes in access to personal information. As a research fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, Andrew collaborates with researchers who are examining telecommunications industry transparency, web-based surveillance, and other forms of information controls.
As a facilitator at the annual Cyber Dialogue conference series, Andrew collaborated with global Internet community members on the topics of digital citizenship skills and corporate social responsibility in the digital age. He has a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, where he conducted advanced research on tools and resources to empower designers of e-democracy systems.
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