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Report finds massive drop in Canadians’ willingness to disclose personal information for free online services

The vast majority of Canadians say they are unwilling to share their personal data in exchange for better online services


May 29, 2020
By CS Staff

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The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) released it’s 2020 Canadians Deserve a Better Internet Report, which provides an overview of Canadians’ views on key digital and internet policy issues.

The report will help inform policy discussions ahead of the Canadian Internet Governance Forum, which has been rescheduled to November 24th and 25th due to COVID-19.

“Right now, many Canadians worry that the dangers online outweigh the benefits – especially when it comes to privacy,” said  Byron Holland, CIRA president and CEO. “COVID-19 has shown us that going ‘off the grid’ is no longer an option; digital forces are knocking on the front doors of our homes through new smart, internet-enabled technologies and digital surveillance tools.”

Overall, the report shows Canadians growing anxiety about cybersecurity-related issues, including a significant drop in their willingness to disclose personal information for better content and services online.

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In 2019, 72 per cent of Canadians said they were willing to disclose some or a little personal information in exchange for valuable content or service. Only one year later, with the exception of online banking services, the vast majority of Canadians say they are unwilling to share their personal data in exchange for better online services.

“I’m optimistic that the entire sector can work together and strike the right balance that provides the assurances Canadians need to ensure the internet remains a trusted part of their everyday lives,” Holland said.

Key Findings from Canadian Internet Users:

  • With the exception of online banking services (52%), most Canadians indicate that they are unwilling to share their personal data in exchange for better products and services:
    • 26 per cent for better video streaming services,
    • 23 per cent for social media websites,
    • 6 per cent for digital advertising
    • 15 per cent for internet-connected devices like baby monitors.
  • 83 per cent believe it is important that government data, including the personal information of Canadians, be stored and transmitted in Canada only.
  • 7-in-10 are concerned about potential cybersecurity risks from foreign-owned network technologies like Huawei Technologies.
  • 74 per cent have privacy or security concerns related to connected-home devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
  • 82 per cent support a change in the Officer of the Privacy Commissioner’s legal authority that would give it powers to make orders and issue fines for companies who fail to comply with Canadian privacy law.
  • Over half of Canadians (54%) indicate that they definitely or probably came across fake news stories about Canadian politics or politicians in the lead up to, or during, the 2019 federal election.
  • 16 per cent indicate that they have used a fax machine to send documents to a government department or agency in the past year because it would not accept scanned documents by email.


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