Letters to the Editor


Nov. 3, 2016 at 6:04 PM 

Mr. Kerr,

Please accept this as a formal request under BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In particular the privacy concerns I have around the Archive Vancouver App, and it’s insistence on using Facebook as a log in.

I believe this to be a violation of the law, since your organization cannot guarantee the protection of my personal information. Your App forces BC residents, I believe, to register for
a Facebook account, thereby releasing personal information to a multinational corporation.

I appreciate you may have considered this already, and I look forward to hearing your response within the time limits suggested by the Act.

Sincerely,

XXXXXX


Nov. 3, 2016 at 10:49 PM

Hello XXXXXX,

We are currently building a sign-up protocol for Archive which would allow people who do not have Facebook accounts to participate with our app and help make our magazine. I will send you an email as soon as it is complete. 

There are two main reasons why we chose to use Facebook as our sign-up authentication tool. First, we wanted people on Archive to use their real names. People online treat one another better when their actions are tied to their offline identity. Abuse is a legitimate problem that can destroy an online community, and we wanted to protect our community from malicious trolls. If a user behaves badly we can remove them from Archive and ban their Facebook account for life. Banning malicious users would be much more challenging if we allowed people to sign up using an email account, because it is very easy to create multiple email accounts. Conversely, most people only have one Facebook account.

The second reason we chose to use Facebook for sign-up is time. We only have one software developer and he has built the Archive app from scratch. As you can imagine, that is a lot of code. When we brought our product to market we had to make some hard decisions about what features to include in the first version of Archive. An in-house sign-up protocol was not a feature that we deemed to be mission critical because Facebook offers a sign-up tool that is accepted as an industry standard for apps. Remember, the Archive app is less than four months old. It is not a finished product. We don’t even have a website yet. We will release our own sign-up protocol soon, we just haven’t completed it. There are other more pressing concerns to deal with, like making sure the app doesn’t crash every time someone opens it. 

I hope this email has allayed some of your concerns. If not, I am happy to answer any other questions you might have.

Best,

Samuel Kerr


Nov. 4th, 2016 at 9:27 PM

Hi, Samuel,

Thank you for your reply, and I appreciate the time you took to write it. (It looks like you were working late to get it to me.)

I’d like to assure you that I think Archive is fantastic, and I hope it is successful. I do understand your technical concerns, and I can even see how the Facebook login is an easy fix. The difficulty, though, is that it’s (in my opinion) illegal. It’s worsened by the fact that it appears taxpayers’ money was given to support a clear violation of statutory rights. 

I’m not trying to derail your project. If you have another protocol, please inform me of what it is—I would like to know if it is compliant with privacy law—and a specific date when you intend to have it implemented by. I don’t intend to hold you to the exact date you give me, but without some reasonable guideline for when this protocol will be implemented, I will have to proceed with a formal complaint under the Act. 

I hope you appreciate this is not personal, but is really a matter of principle and law.

Sincerely,

XXXXXX


Nov. 5th, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Hi XXXXXX,

Archive was designed for use by sane people. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused. 

Samuel Kerr


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