Why privacy matters to me

Pamela is passionate about privacy and wants to help you protect yourself and your family from identify theft, phishing scams and more.

Question 1: As TELUS’ Chief Data & Trust Officer, you understand the importance of protecting our customers, team members and others. Why does privacy matter to you personally?

There are three reasons it matters most to me:

  1. When organizations are clear and transparent around how they intend to use my data, I’m more comfortable dealing with them; they are demonstrating respect for me as an individual. Transparency builds trust and allows me to feel more secure in my daily interactions.
  2. Privacy also matters to me because I don’t want to be a victim of identity theft. I want to know that the organizations collecting my personal information are legitimate and are taking all the precautions they should to protect my data. I also want to know that, if my data is compromised, they will advise me so that I can protect myself.
  3. The third reason I’m passionate about privacy is broader and relates to surveillance. Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance in 2013 got the conversation started and I’m glad the debate continues. It’s a misnomer to think that, as long as you have nothing to hide, privacy is no big deal. I recognize that some forms of surveillance are necessary for fighting crime and terrorism; however, as individuals, we require a sense of privacy to feel comfortable experimenting with new ideas and to realize our full potential. This is especially true for young people. Growth into adulthood, and the conversations that happen along the way, used to occur in relative privacy. Today, a lot of it happens online. This evolution is challenging us to find new solutions that provide both a safe space for self-expression while still providing our law enforcement authorities with the tools they need to do their job. That isn’t a small challenge and it is one that matters to me very much.

Question 2: What are the top two things you do to protect your personal privacy online?

I am very thoughtful about the websites I visit and what I share online (personal information like name, credit card info and cell phone number.) I try to restrict my personal information sharing to reputable organizations that are transparent with me about how they are going to use my information. I am also very careful about using public WiFi. It is a great convenience and I am often thankful for it, but I don’t use it for confidential transactions. I use Internet hotspot for that.

Question 3: As a mother, what are the top three tips you can share with team members about talking with their children about the importance of online privacy?

This is another tough one. As a mother, I want to ensure my children are thoughtful about privacy and about how their personal information is being used. I am always asking myself, “Have I equipped them with the skills they need to navigate the digital world where so much of this data resides?”

My three tips are:

  1. I constantly reinforce that they shouldn’t say or do anything online that they aren’t prepared to have read or seen by everyone at their school the next day. I encourage them to be their best selves online.
  2. Help your kids understand that what they put online stays online forever. Kids have a hard time thinking ahead, but it is critical for them to consider that what they now consider ‘cool’ or funny might one day seem embarrassing or inappropriate and, in the extreme cases, could cost them a job, friends or their reputation.
  3. I can’t give my kids, who have grown up online, concrete tips about all the apps they are using. What I can do is teach them good judgment skills online and offline. I emphasize that none of us can perfectly control the chain of events that can occur after something is posted. I take every opportunity to share stories about where that chain of events has resulted in negative or unanticipated consequences. But I try to balance it with positive stories as well – I don’t want my kids to be scared of engaging in the digital world. When we are thoughtful about what we post, the results can be wonderful.

Question 4: What is the most important privacy tip that you share with your mom and other seniors in your life?

I recognize how vulnerable my mom and others of her generation are to phishing scams. I try to communicate with her often about how dangerous clicking on the wrong link can be. Seniors can feel obligated to reply to email, that ignoring it would be impolite. I advise her that sometimes phishing scams look like they are coming from your friends, or bank or other familiar organizations, and that she can delete them without feeling badly. I tell her to listen to her gut if an email seems strange in any way. I’d also really encourage everyone to explore TELUS WISE with your family members. It has great resources to help everyone enhance their digital literacy skills.