New technologies are introduced daily and have become an essential aspect of modern life. However, as the world is digitizing at a rapid rate, it has never been a more critical time to think about your privacy rights and Canadian privacy protection rights. This resource aims to spread knowledge and help you safeguard your privacy against many threats.
Governments and companies gather and store a vast array of your information. For example, when you file your tax return or apply for a government-related grant/benefit, your personal information is collected and stored in a database. Other situations may be while you purchase/book something online and fill in your personal and credit card details. Additionally, your personal information, including behaviours, is picked up by surveillance cameras, radio-frequency identification chips embedded in products and ID cards, and cell phone tracking devices.
However, it is essential to note that your information should only be collected, used, stored and disclosed with your consent and knowledge. Your legal right is to protect your privacy from being shared with others.
This resource is for your guide to help understand the following key aspects of your privacy;
- How data is stored and used
- The private sector privacy law
- Your rights under PIPEDA
- Survey findings on how Canadians feel about their privacy protection
- Identity fraud figures in Canada
Personal information has become an increasingly hot commodity for marketers and researchers.
When you buy a product or book a service with a business, you do more than exchange money for the product. When making a purchase, you provide your personal information and banking details. While it may sound common and natural to you, it is definitely of great value to receivers, whether that’s legitimate marketers or identity thieves. While for some organizations, it is essential to collect their customer’s personal information for business purposes. For others, it has now become a tactic to gather information and use it to try to sell us more of their products and services. For this purpose, your personal information is disclosed to internal or external marketers.
The Private Sector Privacy Law
Personal information is protected under PIPEDA, The Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents Acts Canada. PIPEDA sets the rules for businesses collecting personal data to perform commercial activities. Importantly, PIPEDA applies to all companies, regardless of their size, industry and operational presence (demographic or digital). Furthermore, PIPEDA also applies to all personal data that flows across provincial or national borders. So, for example, if the business operates in Canada, the United States and Mexico, PIPEDA will apply. Additionally, as per the Global Data Privacy & Security Handbook, Organizations that commit PIPEDA offences may be subject to fines of up to CAD 100,000.
Your rights under PIPEDA
PIPEDA accepts organizations to collect, use and disclose your personal information by fair and lawful means. However, this can only be done through your consent. Furthermore, businesses may collect your primary (name and contact details) personal information as an essential part of business activity. However, if additional information is requested, you have legal rights to question why and only provide details if you are fully satisfied by its use.
Moreover, PIPEDA obliges organizations to securely store their client’s personal information and discard it when it is no longer needed. Lastly, you shall have the right to request the company to show your stored personal information and rectify errors or make updates as needed.
Survey findings on Canadian’s privacy protection
- Nearly 64% of Canadians state that their knowledge of their privacy rights is either good or excellent.
- Almost half of Canadians (47%) do not have enough information to know how new technologies might affect their privacy.
- Only 45% of Canadians believe that private businesses respect their privacy rights.
- Most Canadians (81%) believe that their personal information is secured with banks.
- Fewer have a fair amount or a great deal of trust in telecommunication and internet companies (47%), online retailers (40%) and Big Tech (39%).
- Canadians were least likely to trust social media companies (15%) to protect their personal information.
- 89% of Canadians are at least somewhat concerned about identity theft (48% being extremely concerned)
- Only 43% of Canadians feel informed about how companies use and handle their data.
- More than half (55%) of people have little or no information on how their data is used.
- Lastly, 61% of Canadians feel they have zero control over how companies use their personal information.
Identity Fraud Figures
Cybercrime increased across the board during the pandemic, and identity theft was no exception. As a result of COVID-19, businesses were left with no choice but to turn digital to meet consumer needs. While some businesses were ready for this change, others took a risk-based approach and insecurely collected their consumer’s private data. This led cybercriminals to steal more than $880 million from consumers. While this may sound like a significant figure, it doesn’t stop here. The vast amount of government benefits fraud conducted using stolen personal data is not included in this figure. Additionally, there was also a surge in identity theft linked to social media accounts, with reported incidents jumping by 1,044% in 2021.
Furthermore, it has become more accessible for cybercriminals to obtain personal information than ever before. Identify fraud increased by 68% from 2020 to 2021 and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported the following statistics specific to identity theft in Canada (Jan 22 – Oct 22):
- There have been over 68,000 reports of fraud since the start of the year
- Fraud has affected 43,476 victims tell Oct 22
- Over $360 million has been lost to fraud.