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Online Privacy: sub-module 13 of 15 of learning online: online safety category

As you navigate your online environment you leave a digital footprint when you access websites, perform searches, and interact with apps. Brush up on your online privacy knowledge by going through content on this page.



  • Know your rightsIn Canada, you have the right to privacy of personal information. This means that you have control over how you choose to share your personal information, with whom, and at what time. Privacy laws provide a level of protection.
  • Manage your digital environmentUnderstand privacy options available to you. Know how to adjust privacy settings of your favourite apps and browsers.
  • Take a look at the Terms of UseTerms of Use are legal documents that identify your rights and the rights of the company who offers a product (i.e. an app). Read through them before you tap I Agree.
  • Keep your Cloud Storage privateCloud storage makes on the go backup and access a breeze. Consider your upload and sharing options to keep your high value content private.

Content Licensing Information

Videos shared on this page fall outside of the Learning Portal's Creative Commons license.

Privacy Primer

There are a number of laws in Canada that relate to privacy rights. The two you should be familiar with are The Privacy Act, - Opens in a new window which instructs government organizations on how to handle your personal information, and PIPEDA, - Opens in a new window which governs how businesses should handle personal information. 

There are also two access and privacy laws- Opens in a new window that promote accountability and transparency, and that protect the privacy rights of individuals when dealing with public sector organizations in Ontario: the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act- Opens in a new window, which applies to provincial institutions such as universities, colleges, and hospitals, and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act- Opens in a new window, which applies to municipal institutions such as cities, school boards, and police services.

Privacy Settings

About Privacy Settings


You can setup your digital environment to reflect your privacy preferences. Learn more about various options by interacting with information in each tab.

Settings for Apps

Protecting your privacy when downloading, installing, and interacting with apps is something that you should consider. Explore the world of app permissions by accessing the resources below.

Stop and Consider!

  • Have you read the app's Terms and Conditions?
  • Do you know what the app has access to? (e.g. camera, microphone, location information, contacts, etc.)
  • Can you change the app's permissions without affecting its functionality?
  • Who gets access to the data collected through your use of the app?
  • What kind of privacy options does the app offer?

Browser Settings

Most browsers have a private browsing mode, a feature which helps minimize the amount of information your browsing activity generates and is potentially shared with third parties. Private browsing does not make you anonymous. Learn more about the most common browsers' privacy settings by visiting the pages below:

Options in Different Platforms/Operating Systems

We all have a platform preference. Google, Microsoft, and Apple are examples of platforms you may interact with on a regular basis. Do you know what privacy options they offer? 

More Info

Terms of Use

Let's face it, very few people read Terms and Conditions, or Terms of Use, prior to installing an app, or accessing a website. The resources below provide some food for thought on this important subject.  

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage and file sharing solutions revolutionized access, productivity and collaboration. Cloud storage allows for storing and sharing of personal and professional documents, including images and audio visual content. Cloud storage can also have serious implications on privacy. Learn more about them here. 

Cookies & Online Tracking

Have you ever stopped to consider why products you searched for on Amazon show up in your Facebook feed, pop up in your Google search results, or on YouTube? Cookies and other online tracking tools enable this to happen. This can feel like a privacy violation. Targeted online advertising relies on data tracking in order to push "relevant" information out to the end user. Don't want your browsing information tracked - access content through a private browsing window (read more in the Privacy Settings > Browsers box above). 

Privacy and Sexting

Intimate messages (images, videos) shared privately with another person can become a privacy violation when distributed to others without permission. While non-consensual sharing of intimate images and videos can be linked to cyberbullying, it does have privacy implications. Learn more about sexting and privacy by accessing the information below. 

Privacy and Gaming

While scoring points and unlocking new worlds may be the name of most games, privacy shouldn’t be an afterthought. You should take seriously how information is collected, shared and used by everyone in the gaming ecosystem.

Messaging apps

There are many messaging apps out there, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Signal. These apps all provide different levels of privacy for their users. Compare the different apps to make an informed choice. 

Is Your Phone Listening?

Many of us have had the feeling that our phones are listening to our conversations when we see advertisements for things we say out loud. So is it happening? Read the information below for explanations of how our phones collect and use our information, and what we can do to protect our privacy.