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Canadian Students Are Sharing Passwords to Prove Friendships

Canadian students are sharing their online passwords with one another as proof of friendship, according to the Quebec Access to Information Commission (CAI).

Since 2016, CAI has toured secondary schools across Quebec with a campaign called "Ce que tu publies, penses-y" which roughly translates as "Think before you publish."

The purpose of the cybersecurity campaign is to warn adolescents about the risks and consequences of being active online, especially on social media. So far, 32,000 students have been exposed to the company, but despite the efforts of CAI, the incredibly important message doesn't seem to be getting through.

Speaking to The Canadian Press, "Ce que tu publies, penses-y" program coordinator Isabelle Gosselin said that students don't believe that they are at risk and do nothing to protect their privacy.

According to Gosselin, proof of the extent of this problem is that three out of four high school students raise their hands when asked if they share passwords with friends.

Gosselin said that they are almost proud to do it, often seeing it as proof of friendship or of love. In fact, she said the trend has become very fashionable. 

Government organization CAI wants to encourage young internet users to adopt safe and responsible behavior, particularly in terms of privacy and respect for privacy. However, Gosselin said that when she tries to warn teenagers about the potentially dire consequences of sharing their passwords, they respond with "Don't you think you're exaggerating, ma'am?"

A fresh incarnation of the CAI cybersecurity tour will launch this month in an effort to convince teens to adopt best practices when it comes to online security. Gosselin said the tour's goal is to educate students who think they are invincible. 

During the 2019–2020 school year, the commission will again take their "Ce que tu publies, penses-y" to Quebec high schools in hopes of persuading students to take cybersecurity seriously. 

Students will be shown an hour-long presentation that addresses a number of concepts, such as identity theft, sexting, geolocation, and privacy settings from a privacy perspective. 

To ram the point home, the presentation includes genuine real-life examples of what happens when cybersecurity guidelines aren't followed. Some of the stories that students will hear relate to incidents that have happened within their own school.

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