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Privacy expert steps down from advisory role with Sidewalk Labs



One of the world’s leading privacy experts has stepped down from her advisory role with Sidewalk Labs, Google’s sister company, which is preparing to build a data-driven neighbourhood at the foot of Parliament St.

It’s a development one tech expert characterized as “a major blow to the legitimacy of the project.”

Ann Cavoukian, former Information and Privacy commissioner of Ontario, tendered her resignation letter on Friday, writing that the proposed protection of personal data “is not acceptable.”

Cavoukian believes the plan for the Quayside smart-city development does not adequately protect individual privacy, and data collected from sensors, surveillance cameras and smartphones must be de-identified at source.

“Just think of the consequences: If personally identifiable data are not de-identified at source, we will be creating another central database of personal information (controlled by whom?), that may be used without data subjects’ consent, that will be exposed to the risks of hacking and unauthorized access,” she wrote in her letter to Sidewalk Labs.

The planned collaboration between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto plan imagines a city of the future on 12-acres of the eastern waterfront at Parliament and Queens Quay.

The project would be so data-rich that it has been fraught with concern about what would happen to that collected information. Three advisers have previously stepped back from the project citing privacy concerns.

Cavoukian’s resignation came less than a week after Sidewalk Labs published its digital governance proposals, a 41-page document that sought to put people’s privacy fears to rest by detailing how data collected in Quayside would be managed by an independent civic data trust, and not owned or controlled by Google.

While Sidewalk Labs said it would de-identify data, it couldn’t guarantee what third parties would do.

The proposals were given to Quayside’s digital advisory panel three days before they met to approve them on Thursday, leading several members to call for a delay to allow more time to consider privacy before moving forward with the project.

It was only at the meeting that Cavoukian realized “de-identification at source” was not a guarantee.

“When Sidewalk Labs was making their presentation, they said they were creating this new civic data trust which will consist of a number of players — Sidewalk, Quayside, Waterfront Toronto and others — and that Sidewalk Labs would encourage them to de-identify the data involved that was collected but it would be up to the group to decide,” she told The Star Saturday.

“That’s where I just said no.”

Cavoukian said she hopes her resignation will “ignite a discussion” on how to proceed with the Quayside smart city while protecting data and says she remains optimistic that de-identification at the source will be put in place.

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer advising Sidewalk Labs, was surprised Cavoukian’s resignation came when it did.

“Her resignation seems to me a little premature because she would be very influential with (the civic data trust) once it’s established,” he said.

Fraser said the proposal to establish a civic data trust is “revolutionary.”

“This is about giving control to the body,” he said. “(Sidewalk Labs) didn’t parachute in and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ They parachuted in and said, ‘What are we going to do?’ ”

“Nobody has yet dictated how that data trust makes its decisions. It’s going to decide itself.”

Still, there are those who see the Cavoukian resignation as a significant setback to the project.

“Sidewalk Labs is at the centre of a debate about data and data protection. The resignation of Cavoukian is clear evidence that we don’t have proper regulatory infrastructure to deal with these new smart city initiatives,” said Fenwick McKelvey, an associate professor in communication Studies at Concordia University who studies internet policies and governance.

“Her resignation, especially because she was participating in good faith, is a major blow to the legitimacy of the project.”

Chantal Bernier, legal adviser to Waterfront Toronto, said the project is sparing no effort to identify and address privacy issues.

“We are still identifying every privacy risk to which we will apply every privacy protection available to us,” Bernier said in an email.

In a written statement, Sidewalk Labs spokesperson Dan Levitan said: “Sidewalk Labs has committed to implement, as a company, the principles of Privacy by Design. Though that question is settled, the question of whether other companies involved in the Quayside project would be required to do so is unlikely to be worked out soon, and may be out of Sidewalk Labs’ hands.”

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114th Santa Claus Parade marked largest parade in city’s history




Zyana Mangubat didn’t care that she was about to witness the largest parade — of any kind — in the city’s history.

The antler-wearing Stouffville tot was there for the star of the show.

The Fernandes family takes a selfie.
The Fernandes family takes a selfie.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

“Santa!” Zyana, 7, erupted when asked what she was most looking forward to Sunday from Toronto’s annual Santa Claus Parade.

But before she’d see the rotund elf — and bid him bring her a Hatchimal egg — some 32 floats, 21 marching bands and thousands of clowns, knights, skunks, fish, princesses and upside-down monkeys would pass by her University Ave. perch.

And those combined floats and players would make the 114th edition of the Christmas season kick off larger than any of its predecessors, says Clay Charters, the parade’s executive director.

“And if the Santa Claus parade has always been the largest in the city and this is our largest Santa Claus parade, then I’m inclined to agree with (the largest parade ever claim),” Charters says.

“The previous high mark was 30 floats, so we’re two floats longer than there’s ever been before.”

The parade’s fanciful new entrants included a float sponsored by and Autentica Cuba featuring sunning elves on a Caribbean beach as well as a Canada Protection Plan entrant called Sledding Fun.

There were also 19 returning sponsors who’d done complete rebuilds of previous floats, Charters says.

Celebrity clowns smile during the parade.
Celebrity clowns smile during the parade.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Charters says his not-for-profit organization relied on more than 3,000 staff and volunteers to build, march in, and marshal this year’s parade.

Kalayce Brown — a parade sticker on her 6-year-old face — also enjoyed Santa and was asking him for an L. O. L Surprise Doll.

Dinosaur-mad James Chong, 7, hoped to see a Jurassic World movie float, but would have to make do with a Toronto Raptors raptor dribbling a basketball across a Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment entrant.

Charters is not surprised that the parade is still growing and beckoning hundreds of thousands of kids and their parents to Toronto’s downtown sidewalks in this video-game age.

“I think that even if kids are attracted to video games and their screens, inevitably everyone wants to be able to share experiences with people they love,” he says.

“And that’s what the Santa Claus Parade offers is a chance to get outside, to share something with your friends and family and to build traditions with them.”

The three-hour parade travelled from Christie Pits, wending along Bloor St., University Ave, and Wellington, Yonge and Front Sts. before breaking up at the St. Lawrence Market.

The North Toronto Marching band. The 114th Santa Claus Parade starts at Christie Pits and ends at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.
The North Toronto Marching band. The 114th Santa Claus Parade starts at Christie Pits and ends at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

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Puppies saved from Korean meat trade up for adoption in Calgary




Two puppies rescued from a meat farm in South Korea are looking for forever homes in Calgary.

The dogs were born and raised for meat but with the help of an Alberta animal rescue group, the two canines are getting a second chance at life.

After a 16-hour flight, puppies Alison and Liz arrived in Calgary over the weekend met by members of Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue (RMAR).

110 pooches rescued from dog meat festival arrive in Canada

In partnership with Go Rescue Korea, RMAR was able to carry out the rescue — the first of its kind for the Canadian group.

Both dogs were found on an illegal dog meat farm in South Korea where the conditions were described as horrific by RMAR volunteer Krishneel Prasad.

“[The dogs] were living under a bridge in cages with 10 to 15 dogs and drinking out of muddy rainwater,” said Prasad. “They were just waiting for their time to be slaughtered.”

Alison arrived in Calgary over the weekend after being saved from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Global News

Because of the abuse Alison and Liz endured, they have been reluctant to leave their kennel since landing in Calgary. Amanda Lo, operations manager of RMAR, is optimistic the dogs’ demeanors will change.

“When they came [to Calgary], they were extremely fearful, which is understandable for their history,” Lo said. “But I think they’ll do really great.”

Officials estimate there are still more than 17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea.

Despite a decline in demand over the past decade, millions of dogs are slaughtered every year for their meat, RAMR said.

Terrified dogs rescued from Korean dog meat farm recovering in Montreal shelter

Both Alison and Liz are Jindo Cross, a breed described by the American Kennel Club as being “alert, bold and intelligent.” Prasad said these pups just need a second chance.

“They’re our best friends and they don’t know what it’s like [to be pets],” said Prasad. “They just need to have that opportunity.”

Liz arrived in Calgary over the weekend after being saved from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Global News

The next step is to find homes for Alison and Liz in Alberta or British Columbia. Lo said the families who adopt the dogs will need to be patient as the animals transition from being livestock to family pets.

“I need to wonder what their personalities will be like and what sort of family I should be matching them up with,” said Lo.

RMAR said it will continue to try to save more dogs from meat farms across the world in order to give them the same opportunities as Alison and Liz.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Just something you do’: Bystanders save man from burning vehicle




Four bystanders used a muffler to break the windows of a burning vehicle to save the driver inside on Saturday morning in Upper Rawdon, N.S.

Ronnie Densmore was working behind his home at around 11:20 a.m. when he heard a vehicle’s tires spinning out of control on Highway 14.

He looked over, saw a vehicle off the road that was on fire. He hopped on his all-terrain vehicle and headed over.

Densmore joined three other people there to carry out the rescue. He grabbed the muffler that had broken off the vehicle and used it to break some windows.

« It’s just something you do, » Densmore said Sunday. « You can’t see whether there’s someone in there or not. I thought I saw a glimmer of something moving, so I thought, ‘We got to get that smoke out to see if there’s someone in there.’ It turns out there was. »

The other three bystanders then pulled the 30-year-old man from the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle was airlifted to hospital in Halifax. (Submitted by Beth Densmore)

Densmore said first responders arrived in what seemed like no time and he was back home by about 11:50 a.m.

RCMP said the driver was airlifted to hospital in Halifax with serious injuries.

One of the bystanders who helped with the rescue was Richard Dorey-Robinson, of nearby Rawdon Gold Mines. He’s a volunteer firefighter and got a page about the fire.

Rather than head to the fire station, he went straight to the scene, which was about two kilometres away. His brother, James, was also involved in the rescue.

It’s not clear who the fourth person is who helped with the rescue.

‘The right place at the right time’

This wasn’t Densmore’s first time rescuing someone from a burning vehicle. He was a volunteer firefighter for 31 years, but only stopped when he retired and moved from Noel to Upper Rawdon.

He said the experience brought back the feeling of adrenaline he encountered on so many other rescues.

« It feels good you were able to help somebody, being in the right place at the right time, » he said.

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