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Public opinion survey

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Findings of a 2007 poll commissioned by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Ottawa, May 31, 2007 – The Office of the Privacy Commissioner commissioned Ekos Research Associates to undertake a survey of Canadian businesses on a number of issues relating to privacy and the implementation of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

Some of the key findings of the poll, conducted in March, are:

  • Many businesses (86 per cent) recognize taking privacy seriously today is just good business.
  • A majority of businesses (55 per cent) believe their customers are more concerned about privacy related issues today than in the past.
  • With the implementation of PIPEDA (and comparable provincial legislation in a few provinces), businesses across the country have certain responsibilities in terms of how they collect, use and disclose any personal information from customers. While the majority of businesses that collect personal information have fully implemented these provisions (67 per cent), there are a small but not insignificant number that are only in the process of implementing (16 per cent) and others that are not in the process of doing so (15 per cent).
  • One in two businesses report they have a high awareness of their responsibilities under Canada’s privacy laws.  The findings suggest there is a clear need to raise awareness of responsibilities under Canada’s privacy laws as similar numbers report either low or moderate awareness.
  • Only a third of all businesses report having trained staff about the practices and responsibilities under Canada’s privacy laws, although it is much more pronounced among larger businesses. At the same time, only one in five has sought clarification of their role (although this is also much higher among larger business).
  • Most businesses do not point to particular difficulties when it comes to complying with privacy laws. A small minority – less than one in 10 businesses – do report having had difficulties doing so, but the overwhelming majority indicate it was either easy, or neither easy nor difficult.
  • A third of companies report they don’t collect personal information about customers.
  • Personal information is being stored almost as frequently on paper (74 per cent) as it is being stored electronically (79 per cent).

The Ekos poll involved an 11-minute telephone survey with 1,033 businesses in Canada from March 12th to March 29th 2007. Given the focus was on the adoption of privacy laws, the survey was designed to contact senior decision makers with responsibility for knowledge of their company’s privacy and security practices. Since medium- and large-sized businesses together account for less than 15 per cent of all businesses, the sample was stratified by company size (based on number of employees) and regions to ensure there were enough respondents from those size segments from across the country.  The poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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