Into the Dataverse: A snapshot of how personal data is generated, collected, and used in Canada

This project examines how personal data is currently being generated, collected and used in order to equip policymakers with a better understanding of current practices and public perceptions.

Project Team

​Sarah Villeneuve
Policy Analyst
Stephanie Fielding
Policy & Research Analyst
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation
Meghan Hellstern
Senior Projects Officer
Nisa Malli
Senior Policy Analyst
Jessica Thomson
Marketing and Communications Specialist

Why we’re doing this project

Data holds immense value in today’s economic, political, and social realms. Recent technological advances in computing power — coupled with near perpetual connectedness afforded by the internet — have enabled data collection and analysis to be performed at scale, often referred to as ‘big data’ practices. Among other technological breakthroughs, these developments have facilitated rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and applications. As the significance of data and the technology it enables increases, so will the need to mitigate the consequences and understand how to best leverage its capabilities to maximize public and private benefits. The question of how to balance the opportunities data enables with the risks associated with privacy and equity is gaining steam across civic advocacy groups, government, corporations, academia, and the general public.

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Our Approach

This project’s foundations have been informed by a series of articles exploring the current landscape of personal data collection practices in Canada. During this process, we identified the lack of granular information from a Canadian perspective on data generation, collection, and use practices and related public perceptions. To better understand current personal data collection practices and related public perceptions, we are proposing to employ ethnographic methods to develop a granular understanding of how individuals in Canada are currently sharing their data, what data is being collected and by whom, as well as individual’s perceptions of data privacy and data governance. This novel approach will ground policy discussions in the actual experiences and perceptions of Canadians.

We are currently seeking collaborators for this project. If you are interested in working with us please contact Sarah Villeneuve.

​Sarah Villeneuve
Policy Analyst
Stephanie Fielding
Policy & Research Analyst
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation
Meghan Hellstern
Senior Projects Officer
Nisa Malli
Senior Policy Analyst
Jessica Thomson
Marketing and Communications Specialist

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Deep Dive

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Nov 12, 2019

From asking Alexa about the weather to catching some Z's, this article provides a snapshot of how personal data is being actively and passively collected during your down time.
Data Never Sleeps: Data collection practices in domestic spaces

Nov 4, 2019

Learn more about the Into the Dataverse series, an exploration into how personal data is currently generated, collected, and used in Canada
README.txt: Introducing Into the Dataverse, the article series
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