Personal information about Canadians is more easily accessible than ever, with 97 per cent of private companies obtaining customer information such as names, addresses and telephone numbers.
A new survey, completed for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, found that many businesses also collect opinions, evaluations, financial information, medical history and purchasing habits. Sixty-eight per cent of the 1,006 businesses interviewed said they collected information to help provide services to customers.
While the percentage of companies requesting personal information of customers has increased by 34 since 2007, businesses are less concerned about possible privacy breaches. Exactly half of the companies surveyed said they were “not at all concerned" about instances that compromise customer information, while 58 per cent did not have guidelines in place for when breaches occur.
Ottawa’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien’s office released a statement in response to the survey, expressing concern over a “lack of concrete actions” from businesses when it comes to protecting customer information, reported the Toronto Star.
Private companies aren’t the only ones gaining more access to personal information of citizens.
The survey comes as Therrien criticized Bill C-13 in the House of Commons Tuesdsay, indicating that the so-called cyberbullying bill will give authorities access too much information about law-abiding citizens. The bill would overhaul the existing system of warrants, giving police greater ability to track and trace telecommunications.
There are similar concerns about Bill S-4, known as the Digital Privacy Act, which is currently being reviewed by the Senate.
Critics say the bill would allow police and even private companies to obtain the IP addresses of Canadians, even when there is no criminal investigation.
“Affected individuals would be unable to complain,” technology law expert Michael Geist recently stated. “They would never know there was something to complain about.”
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