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Learning Portal - Learning Online: Online Privacy

Online Privacy 

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 the content on this page.

Top Tips

✓ Know your rights. In 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 environment. Understand privacy options available to you. Know how to adjust the privacy settings of your favourite apps and browsers.

✓ Take a look at the Terms of Use. Terms of Use are legal documents that identify your rights and the rights of the company that offers a product (i.e. an app). Read through them before you tap I Agree.

✓ Keep your Cloud Storage private. Cloud storage makes on-the-go backup and access a breeze. Consider your upload and sharing options to keep your high-value content private.

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.  

Privacy Project


Check out these links: 

→ Sample Terms of Use: Instagram

→ Instagram Terms of Use - In Plain English

  • Reused with permission from Growing up Digital: A Report of the Growing up Digital Taskforce - Children's Commissioner for England. Access full report at

→  Sample Terms of Use: Snapchat

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 audiovisual content. Cloud storage can also have serious implications on privacy. Learn more about them here. 


→ In the News: Apple to Beef Up Security Measures After Nude Photo Leak

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). 


Check out these videos 

These Tools Can Protect Your Online Privacy

  • Cookies and ad tracking. Find out how they work and how to cut online tracking and targeted advertising down to a minimum.

Website Cookies Explained

  • What are cookies? The Guardian’s animated guide to website cookies, the many functions they have, and how you can control them.


Check out these links: 

→ Cookies: Frequently Asked Questions

→ Are Cookies Crumbling our Privacy?

→ Do Not Track (DNT)

  • Information about cookies and device fingerprinting.

→  Browser Fingerprinting: What You Need to Know

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.

→ Gaming and your privacy infographicThis infographic offers tips to individuals on gaming and privacy.


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. 

→ What is the best secure messaging app? -From NordVPN

  • This article provides a clear comparison of some of the top messaging apps and the user data they track so that you can decide what the best option is for you

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, which instructs government organizations on how to handle your personal information, and PIPEDA, which governs how businesses should handle personal information. 

There are also access and privacy laws that promote accountability and transparency, and that protect the privacy rights of individuals when dealing with public sector organizations in Alberta: the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which applies to provincial institutions such as universities, colleges, and hospitals.

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.

Check out this video by CBC News from 2017.

Privacy and smartphone apps - PDF (video transcript)


More Videos 

How to protect your privacy on your phone

  • Privacy, security, and your smartphone. Quick tips for keeping your online presence secure.

Understanding app permissions

  • App permissions. What exactly do they mean? Watch this video to find out about the most common app permissions.


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?


Check out these links: 

→ Privacy and Mobile Apps: Tips for Protecting your Personal Information

→ 30+ Privacy and Security Settings in iOS 12 You Should Check Right Now

→ How to Improve Your Android Privacy

Browser Settings

Most browsers have a private browsing mode, a feature that 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? 


Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is from the Learning Portal created by College Libraries Ontario. Content has been adapted for the NWP Learning Commons in May 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.

All icons on these pages are from The Noun Project. See individual icons for creator attribution.