GATINEAU, Que.—Canadians want tougher privacy laws and for government institutions and private sector organizations to be more upfront about how they collect and use personal information, according to a new survey of 1,500 Canadians commissioned by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
Reforming Privacy Legislation
The survey found a majority of Canadians support amendments to the Privacy Act, which covers the personal information handling practices of federal government institutions.
“Canadians agree it’s time to modernize the Privacy Act, which has gone largely unchanged since it was introduced in 1983,” said commissioner Daniel Therrien.
- 78 per cent of those surveyed broadly support requiring government institutions to properly safeguard the personal information they collect about Canadians
- 71 per cent support the Privacy Act being expanded to the Prime Minister’s Office and the offices of cabinet ministers
- 69 per cent support granting the privacy commissioner order-making power to enforce recommendations made following an investigation
- 66 per cent think government institutions should be required to take steps to assess the privacy risks of any new program or law
Protecting Personal Information
“This survey also confirms that Canadians are increasingly concerned about what happens to their personal information in the age of big data and biometrics. They want more transparency in their dealings with both business and government,” Therrien said.
- 92 per cent expressed concern about the protection of their privacy
- 66 per cent said they do not know what is being done by government with their personal information
- 70 per cent said intelligence and law enforcement agencies should report publicly on how often they request personal information from telecommunications companies without judicial oversight
- 81 per cent expressed some level of concern about government monitoring for national security reasons
Doing Business Safely
When it comes to business transactions, Canadians expressed support for measures that would give them more control over personal information collected online.
- 86 per cent agree websites should seek their consent for targeted advertising.
- 70 per cent say they would be more likely to do business with companies if they were subject to strict financial penalties for misusing their personal information
- 51 per cent say they’ve taken their business elsewhere over concerns about a company’s privacy practices
“Clearly explaining how personal information is collected, used, and protected is crucial to building public confidence and trust, whether it’s in your company brand or government,” Therrien said.