First public outing for BC Services Card project

The new BC Services Card combining the driver's license and health care card.

It never rains but it pours. I have been steadily busy completing Phase II of my research project, A National ID Card by Stealth? The BC Services Card: Risks and Opportunities for Privacy, funded by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. I am working on the project in partnership with the BC Civil Liberties Association, and in consultation with Andrew Clement, from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.

Today I gave my first presentation on my findings (such as they are) to date, at the BC Information Summit 2012, hosted by the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. It was very different from my usual presentations, riddled with dramatic images of surveillance technologies, riot porn and social movement protest. There is very little shock value in identity cards and privacy legislation. And no chance for swearing.

Still, and happily, the response was positive. I guess the privacy nightmare of mega-databases of personal information with undisclosed or inadequate access controls resonates. Our panel was pretty smashing, if I may say so: you can’t go wrong with the ever-dynamic Micheal Vonn, of the BCCLA, and Colin Bennett, Canada’s preeminent privacy researcher. You can check my slides here. And I saw BC’s privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham taking notes – always a good sign.

Tomorrow I fly to Ottawa for back-to-back-to-back presentations: a guest lecture in Aaron Doyle’s third-year class on social movements (one of my favourite topics!); a paper presentation at Security & its Publics workshop; and a public talk.

And interrupting the preparation for this was a spate of CBC radio interviews yesterday on the privacy implications of the Kate Middleton semi-nude photos scandal. Well, it’s not a story of critical importance, but it’s a gig.

I have some academic writing deadlines upcoming as well: a chapter for a collection, to be published by UBC press, on the G20 (also a favourite topic) and another for a textbook, on tech activism and the Occupy movement. And I’m awaiting the publication of a couple other chapters, including the second edition of Josh Greenberg’s textbook Communication in Question. Exciting!

No rest for the wicked and all that…

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