IT Services host fifth annual Privacy and Security Conference

Presentations on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Google’s user data profiles and more

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy recounts his experience in the U.K. investigating the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal at TRU’s fifth P+S Conference. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

TRU’s Information Technology Services department held their fifth annual Privacy and Information Security Conference last Thursday in the Campus Activity Centre. The day-long event offered an opportunity for attendees to network with other professionals employed in information security, along with continuing the conversation on current issues in the digital age. Over 200 guests were in attendance, including CPE practitioners, educators, lawyers, engineers, managers and students. President Brett Fairbairn and Elder Margaret Vickers Hyslop offered welcoming works and blessings.

The morning included keynote speaker B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy who described his experience in the U.K. during the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal investigation and his encounter with Cambridge Analytica ex-employee Christopher Wylie, who brought the politically-purposed illicit data harvesting to the public light. 

During Evoy’s time as deputy commissioner, he began an investigation into how political parties in B.C. collect and use voter data. He intends to publish the final report by this week.

“Interestingly, we are the only province in Canada that provides for that (investigating the use and collection of data), in fact, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is not allowed to look at how political parties handle your data as a federal folio,” he said. “Hopefully next (this) week, I will be releasing a report on how political parties in B.C. use your data.”

“Obviously we do not want a situation of Cambridge Analytica to ensue here in British Columbia and so the investigation reports a lot about taking cause, reflecting and thinking about how parties ought to be acting and the kind of engagement that they need to have with voters,” McEvoy added.

Subsequent to the morning keynote and other presentations on privacy law and the value of penetration testing, a panel on the “internet of things” featuring various IT directors and managers in the region served to highlight many of the concerns around the security of intelligent appliances along with the vitality of consumer education on these devices. The afternoon keynote was a presentation by RSA Security Field CTO Ben Smith on some of the security solutions offered by the company around digital risk management including threat detection, response and prevention.

Nearing the end of the conference, TRU learning technology and innovation director Brian Lamb gave an informative yet terrifying talk on the trends occurring on the internet and the exploiting of personal data by large companies for advertising purchases. He spoke on occurrences like the Macedonian teens who originated the fake news phenomenon during the U.S. election campaign to make money and the disturbing YouTube children’s channels who were going under Youtube’s radar by gaming the website’s algorithms and the data profiles collected by Google and Facebook to sell to advertisers.

TRU vice-president administration and finance Matt Milovick gave the closing remarks thanking Hugh Burley and the IT Services department for their efforts to make the conference possible along with cracking a few paranoia jokes on digital security.