The Privacy Box: Enabling Consumer Choice and Meaningful Consent in Online Privacy


Alysia Lau


Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)




This report examines the notional development of a universal “Privacy Box” of privacy settings and information for users of online services and applications. The primary objective is to contribute to the privacy by design discourse by examining it from the consumer perspective. The research gauged consumer interest in a standardized set of privacy settings or information which would apply across various platforms, including internet browsers, tablets and smartphones. This report also included consumer input on the features of the Privacy Box, such as its appearance and whether it should be mandatory for users and organizations.

The bulk of the primary research for this report consisted of four focus groups conducted with Canadian internet users in Ottawa and Toronto in October 2016. The report also includes a literature review of research on online privacy and user behaviour, and developments in privacy by design; and interviews and consultations with stakeholders including academic researchers, industry representatives, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Many Canadians still value privacy for privacy’s sake. They do not always agree with companies collecting and using information about them, particularly when the extent of these tracking activities is not clear.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
285 McLeod Street, Suite 200
Ottawa, ON   K2P 1A1
(613) 562-4002
(613) 562-0007

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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