Annual Report 2012-2013 on the Privacy Act - page 9

Securing the right to privacy:
outlining the government’s
duty of care
In introducing my final
Annual Report as Privacy
Commissioner, one focused on
securing the right to privacy, I
want to underscore the critical
importance of government’s
responsibility to collect only
the information necessary to
govern, as justified in a free and
democratic society and to handle
the personal information of
Canadians with utmost respect.
This is not just a custodial role.
It is about a relationship between citizen and state
where fundamental freedoms may only be curtailed
in a manner that is demonstrably justified and where
the citizen’s trust is honoured.
Canadians surrender their personal information
to government out of necessity, often under legal
compulsion. And in fact, the efficient delivery of
important government services requires as much. In
return, people justly expect that the government will
exercise effective stewardship over such information.
Growing public concern
It is clear, however, that many
Canadians have their doubts
about whether this is the case.
In fact, in a national telephone
survey conducted for our
Office in 2012-13, only 21%
of Canadians said that they
felt that governments take
their responsibility to protect
personal information seriously.
While the result for the same
question about businesses
in the private sector yielded
even greater scepticism (only
13% felt businesses take their
responsibilities seriously), it is a
disheartening result.
More generally, the survey also found that two-
thirds of Canadians are concerned about the
protection of their privacy. One-quarter indicated
that they were “extremely” concerned.They are
questioning their own ability to protect their
personal information—56% are not confident that
they understand how new technologies affect their
privacy—and we have seen this lack of confidence
increase steadily since the year 2000.
1.0 Commissioner’s Message
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