Canadian Internet Registration Authority funding aims to protect Canadians online

(OTTAWA, June 15, 2017) - Today, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) announces $1 million in Community Investment Program funding, which includes projects aimed at digital literacy around privacy and cybersecurity. One of the projects will enhance Canadians' knowledge about the Internet of Things (IoT). CIRA conducted research in March, 2017 which showed that of those Canadians who are aware of IoT, 73 per cent are concerned about the potential security threats, up 66 per cent from last year. Our research also showed that only 39 per cent of Canadians have heard of IoT. Given the vulnerability of some of these devices to cyberattack, this is concerning. Two other projects focus on digital privacy, including how to secure personal data when crossing the U.S. border.

CIRA's Community Investment Program funds projects run by Canadian not-for-profits, charities and research institutions that build a stronger, safer and more accessible Internet for all Canadians. Over the last four years CIRA has supported 99 projects with over $4.2 million in contributions.

Funding recipients (three of 21)

Option Consommateurs - The Internet of Things: What are the issues facing consumers?

Baby monitors, smart TVs, children's toys, physical activity monitors and alarm systems are only a few examples of the types of smart devices that are in widespread use in Canada. Many people are not aware of the personal information that is collected through these devices, or the dangers they pose in terms of cybersecurity. Research will be conducted and a website will be constructed to help the Canadian population gain a better understanding of the privacy and security questions raised by these devices, and learn how to protect themselves. A video clip will be produced to inform consumers about and promote the website.

BC Civil Liberties Association/Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic - Your Data at the Border: A privacy and security guide

The BC Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic from the University of Ottawa will work together to produce a guidebook and online resource to help people protect their privacy and personal data when crossing the U.S.-Canada border. Whether its proprietary business information stored on s laptop, personal health information stored on a tablet or myriad of other information on a cell phone, this program will help Canadians understand their rights and enhance digital literacy on how to secure data before crossing the border.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression - Digital Security Training for Human Rights

Recent revelations of police surveillance of 11 journalists in Quebec and dozens of Indigenous activists in Canada demonstrate the precarious nature of digital communications, yet many journalists and human rights workers do not take measures to ensure digital security. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression will hold a free, full-day workshop highlighting the risks and practical ways to strengthen digital security. In addition to training 80 journalists and human rights workers at the event, a series of brief video tutorials will be available after the workshop as a resource for participants and the broader public.

Quotes

"Canadians are more vulnerable than ever to online attacks, often in ways they don't understand," says CIRA CEO Byron Holland. "At CIRA we want to build a better online Canada and the Community Investment Program is one of the ways we contribute to a safer and more accessible Canadian Internet. I'm proud to support all of this year's innovative projects."

"When it comes to our digital tools, more and more people will say 'my whole life is on this device'," says Micheal Vonn, policy director, BC Civil Liberties Association. "On the one hand, this means you will want to take your devices with you when you travel. On the other, border search and confiscation is a threat. People need practical advice on how to manage the risks inherent in this Catch-22 situation."

"Journalists and human rights workers are increasingly being targeted for surveillance and cyberattacks, making the important work they do more difficult and dangerous," says Duncan Pike, campaigns and advocacy coordinator with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. "With CIRA's support we will be able to provide urgently-needed training to these at-risk groups, and create digital security programming that will empower and protect thousands more in the years ahead."

"The proliferation of new technologies raises major issues in terms of privacy protection and cybersecurity," says Annik Bélanger-Krams, attorney with Option Consommateurs. "It is important to ensure that consumers are interested in and well informed about this subject."

About CIRA's Research

  • An online survey of Canadian Internet users was conducted by Strategic Counsel.
  • This research was commissioned to identify trends in Canadian Internet use.
  • 1,200 adult Canadian Internet users (18+) surveyed in March 2017.

About CIRA's Community Investment Program

CIRA is building a better online Canada through the Community Investment Program by funding charities, not-for-profits and members of the academic community who are making the Internet better for all Canadians. CIRA is best known for our role managing the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians. While this remains our primary mandate, as a member-based not-for-profit ourselves, we have a much broader goal to strengthen Canada's Internet. The Community Investment Program is one of our most valuable contributions toward this goal and funds projects in digital literacy, online services, research and infrastructure. Every .CA domain name registered or renewed contributes to this program. To date CIRA has supported 101 projects with over $4.2 million in contributions.

Projects funded

Alloprof

Online game: Learn and love reading

Making learning fun through online gameplay stimulates motivation and cognitive mechanisms that lead to long-term learning. Knowledge and information are important in the global economy and developing strong literacy skills is crucial. A powerful online game will be created that teaches reading, comprehension and grammatical rules for sentences. This will improve reading skills among Canadians thereby enhancing their employment opportunities and quality of life.

Athabasca University, School of Computing and Information Systems

Improving meta-cognitive skills of Canadians through a community-based educational online game

Athabasca University's School of Computing and Information Systems will improve the critical thinking, problem solving and innovation skills in Canadians through a community-based, educational, online game that allows users to play against each other in a set of sub games, each focussing on improving these skills. The game utilizes motivational techniques to encourage players to keep playing, learning analytics to increase users' awareness of their skill levels and it personalizes the gaming experience. Within its first year this game will increase the meta-cognitive skills of 1,000 users by 25 per cent.

BC Civil Liberties Association/Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic

Your Data at the Border: A privacy and security guide

The BC Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic from the University of Ottawa will work together to produce a guidebook and online resource to help people protect their privacy and personal data when crossing the U.S.-Canada border. Whether its proprietary business information stored on s laptop, personal health information stored on a tablet or myriad of other information on a cell phone, this program will help Canadians understand their rights and enhance digital literacy on how to secure data before crossing the border.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust

Remote Rights: Online civil liberties education to rural and remote communities in Canada

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust (CCLET) engage students and teachers with knowledge and skills to develop critical thinking about their rights and freedoms. Access to guest speakers and enhanced educational programming is often limited in many rural and remote communities. Isolation and lack of resources can put marginalized community members at greater risk of rights violations. CCLET will work with rural, remote and Indigenous communities to collaboratively develop web-based, culturally appropriate and accessible educational programming. In this way, CCLET's already successful model of in-person workshops, currently delivered at schools and universities in Ontario, will be re-envisioned for online learners across Canada.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Digital Security Training for Human Rights

Recent revelations of police surveillance of 11 journalists in Quebec and dozens of Indigenous activists in Canada demonstrate the precarious nature of digital communications, yet many journalists and human rights workers do not take measures to ensure digital security. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression will hold a free, full-day workshop highlighting the risks and practical ways to strengthen digital security. In addition to training 80 journalists and human rights workers at the event, a series of brief video tutorials will be available after the workshop as a resource for participants and the broader public.

Communautique

Fab Labs Nation

A Fab Lab is a space for citizen participation where everyone can access technology, learn how to create and share their knowledge with members of the community. The Fab Labs Nation will connect existing Fab Labs in a concerted strategy to enhance sharing and capture what each is doing to spark community resilience, promote business innovation, entrepreneurship and create jobs for the future.

Cybera

Toward a clear understanding of Canadian Internet policy consultations

Materials submitted to the CRTC during its regulatory proceedings provide a wealth of information on how Canadians access the internet, but their varying formats - and the sheer number of them - make it difficult to find, aggregate, and analyze the data they contain. This project will extract and analyze the publicly available data submitted to the 2016 CRTC Basic Service Objective consultation. It will focus on the positions of respondents and the evidence they provided, and how these views were referenced in the final decision. This information will then be made publicly available through reports, as well as open-sourced scripts and methodologies. This will enable others - including researchers, policy makers and journalists - to apply the same techniques to other consultation datasets.

Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History and Ourselves Digital Asset Expansion

At a time when incidents of racism and bigotry are framing national discussions in Canada, educators from across the country are seeking ways to address this along with priorities like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. To empower educators to connect the history of the Indian Residential Schools to today's conversations, Facing History will develop a five-week online course based on the educator resource Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Indian Residential Schools and pilot the training with 60 teachers. To accompany this course, Facing History will publish a digital version of Stolen Lives. It will include interactive resources related to lesson planning, teaching strategies, primary source materials and an accompanying series of video resources.

The Gordon Foundation

B.C. Treaty 8 Tribal Association and Mackenzie DataStream

In 2016, CIRA funded a project to enable Fort Nelson First Nation to make their water data openly accessible using Mackenzie DataStream. The current grant will build on this work and include data from other B.C. Treaty 8 First Nations throughout the Mackenzie Basin, offering a more comprehensive view of water within the region. Mackenzie DataStream addresses a universal need among communities-to organize and disseminate water data - and does so at a much lower cost than if communities were to address this independently. As was the case in 2016, we expect this year's programming will not only bring new datasets online, but also help foster collaboration among communities, many of whom are investing substantially in water monitoring.

Lake Winnipeg Foundation

Moving From the Field to the Web: Data sharing for water monitoring

Lake Winnipeg Foundation is working with community members to collect data that will inform water quality policy and practices. A new app will allow citizen scientists to record and upload metadata from water samples they've collected and link to laboratory analysis. This app will connect with existing data repositories including DataStream and the University of Manitoba's Canadian Watershed Information Network to enable a shared strategy in the region and nationally. This project will benefit lake-lovers, citizen volunteers, educational institutions, conservation partners, farmers and landowners to impellent best practices and it will influence government decision makers in policy development for a healthier environment.

Lifecycles Project Society

The Produce Gleaning Hub

The Fruit Tree Project organizes 400 volunteers to harvest over 600 fruit trees and 10 farms to yield over 22,000 kg of local, healthy produce for community centres, food banks and community organizations. An online system upgrade will allow the project to double its harvest and provide a portal for similar projects across Canada to improve their organizational abilities and efficiencies. This means more fresh food will be available for those who need it the most across the country.

McGill University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Intelligent Agent for the Visually Impaired: Vision-based scene description and contextual awareness for Autour

For the blind and visually impaired, knowing "what's around me?" is heavily constrained. The Autour app currently uses GPS data to provide information on the user's location and access points of interest in the area. Enhancements to this app will allow users to better navigate their surroundings. By using Internet cloud services the app will interpret the user's surroundings based on the view of their smartphone camera and describe information relevant to improving their autonomy, such as guidance to a shop entrance or how to cross the street safely.

MediaSmarts

Use, Understand & Create: A digital literacy training program for Canadian educators

Canadian children need digital literacy skills to support their well-being, future economic outcomes and ability to contribute to society in significant and meaningful ways. Use, Understand & Create is a free program that will reach 2,000 university students obtaining an education degree on how to implement digital literacy into their teaching practice. This has the potential to improve the digital literacy skills of over 145,000 students from kindergarten to grade 12 in Canada. In addition to bilingual resources, the program will also help new teachers learn how to set boundaries and protect their professional status when using online platforms.

National Capital FreeNet

Digital Access Day: connecting all Canadians

National Capital FreeNet will organize the first-annual Canadian Digital Access Day, bringing together non-governmental organizations, different levels of government, educational institutions and the technology sector to amplify the national conversation around Canada's digital divide. It's an opportunity to identify what is being done now, what else can be done and how to measure progress. A project website will include a compilation of existing research, profiles of organizations working in this space and recommendations resulting from the first day-long event. This project will be coordinated with Compucorps and the Internet Society Canada Chapter.

Option Consommateurs

The Internet of Things: What are the issues facing consumers?

Baby monitors, smart TVs, children's toys, physical activity monitors and alarm systems are only a few examples of the types of smart devices that are in widespread use in Canada. Many people are not aware of the personal information that is collected through these devices, or the dangers they pose in terms of cybersecurity. Research will be conducted and a website will be constructed to help the Canadian population gain a better understanding of the privacy and security questions raised by these devices, and learn how to protect themselves. A video clip will be produced to inform consumers about and promote the website.

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)

No wrong door: building effective online settlement services for newcomers to Canada

The human service sector's digital capacity lags behind newcomers. By providing more accessible online service channels, human service organizations can expand their service offerings and reach, particularly with newcomers who currently do not access support that requires a face-to-face interaction. This will benefit support organizations as well as newcomers who are seeking their help as information can be customized for local contexts, collaboration between agencies can occur and costs will go down. This project will explore online client intake and service models to distil best practices to share across the sector.

Quebec Environmental Law Centre

Project Pheonix

Citizens often feel powerless and isolated from public decision making because they are steeped in complexities. Project Pheonix will empower people to become change agents through online access to environmental law information. The Quebec Environmental Law Centre will provide a free, user-friendly, online archive of plain-language legal information on environmental law and new legal developments in environmental justice. This material will be offered in French in video format and written documents but with the potential to expand to other language communities.

Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre

The Compassion Games: A youth digital skills-building project

Compassion Games Design Program is where science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and life skills meet art, equity and inclusion. Fifty marginalized and low-income youth will be mentored to develop original digital game content connected to social justice, anti-oppression and health through a positive, accessible and educational after-school and summer program. They will receive the tools, equipment and training for sustainable success in game production empowering them to become active producers on the web instead of passive consumers.

Swim Drink Fish Canada

Protecting health and water with an open standard for automated data exchange

Nearly 50,000 Canadians contract waterborne illnesses in Canada each year. Swim Drink Fish Canada's Swim Guide app and website compile water quality information, helping 1 million people every year learn more about the quality of the water they drink, swim in and fish in. This project will create an open data standard for automated data exchange that will improve the quality and timeliness of this information, improve public awareness of water quality and aid researchers working to protect Canada's waters.

University of Guelph School of Computer Science

Mobile Mesh Technology for improved Internet connectivity in remote Indigenous communities of Canada's Arctic

The Truth & Reconciliation Commission outlined goals of self-governance, improved education and health, preservation of language and culture, and technical equity, but many remote Indigenous communities have limited access to Internet services leaving them disadvantaged for knowledge access and sharing. Soon, the 300 community members of Rigolet, Nunasiavut, Labrador will benefit from a pilot mobile mesh network that uses existing local Bluetooth, WiFi and Wifi direct enabled mobile technologies to improve the community's ability to access and share digital resources from each other and leverage enhanced connectivity. This is a partnership between the University Of Guelph School Of Computer Science and Dr. Daniel Gillis who has spent several years working with this community, and Left.io led by Dr. Jason Ernst, an expert and pioneer in mesh technology research.

University of Waterloo - The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computer Science

Grade 7/8 Mathematics Courseware

Having access to the right materials can make learning and teaching easier and more engaging. Courseware, designed by the University of Waterloo's Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, offers free resources to students in grades 7-12 and teachers throughout Canada to learn math and computer science at no cost. This benefits everyone, especially areas of Canada where current textbooks may be unavailable and access to high-quality instructional tools may be restricted. It also allows parents full access to these resources so they can work alongside their children to enhance the learning experience.

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