Canadians enjoy greater privacy with a recent update to the country's web analytics standard, but the same Web tracking laws don't apply to government-run social media sites.
Standard on Privacy + Web Analytics
In January, the updated law took effect for government websites, and agencies now have until 2014 to ensure any third party analytics they use are also in compliance. However, because the law doesn't apply to social media sites run by government agencies, people who visit them should know the risks.
What the Canadian government has tried to do with this privacy update is to make sure people's Internet protocol addresses are not personally identifiable. That way, it would be harder for someone to track a person's Internet activity across websites.
Because the government uses tools like Google Analytics, though, it has until 2014 to make sure those tools also comply with the law. Tracking of IP addresses with these tools can only be done once the personally identifiable information has been stripped out, in this case, by hiding the number's last 8 digits.
June 2014 is the deadline for when third party analytics platforms like Google Analytics must be in compliance with privacy laws.
Social Media, Privacy Trends
Social media sites run by Canadian government agencies don't have the right to simply do as they please, but the updated privacy law does not apply to them. That doesn't mean they are actively tracking people either. It just means this particular law doesn't apply to them.
In the US, the focus right now is on mobile, and the FTC issued a report on the subject in early February. Recommendations were made about permissions, transparency and Do Not Track capabilities. The FTC said anytime a website or app wants to track things like geolocation, contacts, photos, calender items or other sensitive data, people should first agree to it.
Tell us in the comments if you are increasingly frustrated by online privacy or if you think enough is being done by regulators to combat unwanted tracking.
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