Defining and Assessing Data Privacy Transparency: A Third Study of Canadian Internet Carriers

Jonathan A. Obar


Data privacy transparency is defined here via four components: (1) notice materials (e.g., privacy policies) ensuring meaningful transparency contributes to meaningful online consent; (2) reporting about data practice frequency; (3) digital policy literacy supports; and (4) transparency that is useful as well as useable. To further understanding of this conceptualization, a third assessment was conducted of privacy materials from websites for major, minor, and transit carriers that route Canadian Internet traffic. Results from the sample of 44 Internet service and transit providers suggest carriers continue to demonstrate little interest in data privacy transparency. Minimal details are provided about third-party data requests, disclosures, routing, processing, storage, or retention. Transit providers make almost no reference to Canadian Internet transit practices. The privacy details present suggest that carriers have little interest in leading efforts to inform and educate people about how the Internet works or about privacy implications of Internet use. This perpetuates meaningful online consent challenges, and the marginalization of data subjects in broader Internet governance debates.


privacy, transparency, privacy policy, Internet service provider

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