International News Desk – At Home: Website exposes tenants? private data – In Foreign News: Finland building self-heating homes

International News Desk – At Home: Website exposes tenants? private data – In Foreign News: Finland building self-heating homes

At Home: Website exposes tenants? private data

When the director of a tenants? hotline in Toronto was asked to help with a dispute, he discovered that not only was the client’s personal information available on the Internet?so were private details about nearly 1,400 other tenants in the city.

Geordie Dent, director of the tenant hotline for the Federation of Metro Tenants? Associations, was sent emails exchanged during the dispute between a tenant and landlord. One of the emails was from a company called Landlord’s Source Centre, a service that charges landlords to investigate tenants.

Noticing that one of the emails contained a case number with a hyperlink, Dent discovered that simply by changing the case number he could access files on almost 1,400 other tenants.

As the Toronto Star reports, that information included social insurance numbers, phone numbers, children’s names and ages, and details on mental health issues.

While a rep for Landlord’s Source Centre flatly denied that the information was available, or even that such a database exists, the Star was able to access tenants? private details through the company’s website, and notes that ?subsequent phone calls and emails to [the company] for clarification went unanswered all day.?

In Foreign News: Finland building self-heating homes

Although winters in Finland have their share of cold and snow, designers are convinced that self-heating houses are the wave of the future there. The experimental houses are being built north of Helsinki, in Tikkurila, and as the Helsinki Times reports, they are ?semi-detached houses . . . without a separate heating system.?

With designs focussing on compactness, density, and insulation, It’s believed that the homes will be so cost- and energy-efficient that they can be heated ?primarily from the people, household appliances and lamps? they contain. If necessary, it will be possible to supplement that heat with electric sources, but the houses are expected to cost a mere 350 euros per year in heating expenses, compared to an annual bill of 1,200 euros for a conventional single-family home.

The self-heating homes may be a hard sell, however. In the 1970s Finland responded to the energy crisis with a similar approach but people soon found their homes plagued with poor air circulation and mould.

Construction officials insist that those problems have been addressed, and Helena S├Ąteri, the director general of Finland’s environmental administration, has reassured Finns that the air circulation in the densely built housing will be ?both thorough and effective.?

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