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Canadians say when it comes to online privacy, individual rights trump needs of law enforcement

October 2, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alison Hermansen
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Canadians report being concerned with how their online data is used by law enforcement in the findings of a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA).

  • Three in five Canadians (59%) agree that, to protect individuals' privacy, Internet service providers should not be allowed to share personal information about Internet usage (search habits, browsing history, etc.) with law enforcement agencies without informing the individuals whose information is being shared.
  • Just one in five (22%) agree that, to protect society, we should make it easier for law enforcement agencies to get access to personal information about Internet usage (search habits, browsing history, etc.).
  • Just two in five Canadians (40%) express comfort with their Internet service provider saving Internet browsing history and providing their Internet browsing history to law enforcement.

"This data further reinforces CIRA's opinion that we need an approach to online privacy that balances the needs of law enforcement with the expectations of Canadians," said Byron Holland, president and CEO of CIRA. "The Canadian justice system has a well-developed system that includes judicial oversight as a critical check on police powers and we believe that the same rules should apply with online data."

The survey findings further show that the reason for collecting data has little impact on concerns over privacy. A majority are uncomfortable with their Internet service provider using their browsing history to improve or develop new services and products (54%) or with providing it to law enforcement agencies if they request it to help with their investigations (53%). Concern is highest among 35 to 54 year olds who are more concerned over the use of their browsing history to improve or develop new services and products (63%).

Additionally, Canadians are concerned about how the metadata collected by their Internet service providers is being used. A majority (52%) of Canadians object to Internet service providers saving Internet browsing history and providing anonymous metadata to law enforcement agencies to help with their investigations.

For more information on this survey data, consult CIRA's factsheet.