Privacy Threats in the Context of Intimate Relationships: Sociotechnical Vulnerabilities in Canada’s Legal System

Presented by Yuan Stevens as a part of the 2020 Serene-risc Workshop on The State of Canadian Cybersecurity Conference: Human-Centric Cybersecurity.

About the presentation

In 2018, the Government of Canada released its Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence. An annual review of the strategy demonstrates that the Canadian government is slowly beginning to regulate the use of technology in breaches of consent and acts of harm that now regularly occur online, particularly in the context of intimate relationships premised upon mutual trust.
Drawing on the framework of sociotechnical security (Goerzen et al, 2019), this presentation identifies the weaknesses or vulnerabilities that exist in Canada’s legislation and case law as they relate to privacy threats in intimate relationships. Such harms can include harassment and stalking, unauthorized account access, or the non-consensual sharing or use of personal information or data (among many others). This presentation compares the efforts by legislators and civil society in Canada, Australia, and the US to respond to such breaches of privacy online particularly with respect to vulnerable populations. It demonstrates how and why Canadian law and policy ought to be seen as a vulnerable sociotechnical system, but one that can be improved and patched to guard against privacy threats in the context of intimate relationships.

About the speaker

Yuan (rhymes with Suzanne) Stevens is an action-oriented researcher working at the intersections of law, policy, and computer security. Her work equips society with the ability to understand and patch up harmful vulnerabilities in sociotechnical and legal systems. She advances this work as Policy Lead on Technology, Cybersecurity & Democracy at the Ryerson Leadership Lab as well as the Cybersecure Policy Exchange at Ryerson University.
Passionate about building community, she is a research affiliate at Data & Society Research Institute and a research fellow at the Centre for Media, Technology & Democracy at McGill’s School of Public Policy. She received her B.C.L./LL.B (JD) from McGill University in 2017, working as a research assistant for hacker expert Gabriella Coleman. She serves on the board of directors for Open Privacy Research Institute and previously worked at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.