Canadians concerned about giving retailers their personal information



    OTTAWA, July 3 /CNW Telbec/ - More than half of Canadians say they are
concerned about giving their personal information to retailers, according to
the results of a survey commissioned by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner
of Canada.
    One in two Canadians (52 per cent) indicated they have resisted a
retailer's request for personal information, such as telephone number or
postal code, by asking why the information is needed. Close to half
(45 per cent) have refused to provide this information altogether, and
13 per cent have deliberately provided incorrect information. Respondents who
resisted or declined to provide their information indicated a number of
concerns, including the safety of putting information online, identity theft
and fraud.
    "Our personal information is increasingly invaluable in the marketplace,
and I am very pleased to hear that consumers are taking charge and questioning
requests for their information," says Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.
"I recognize that businesses have a need to better know and understand their
customers, but if they can't give you a good reason for why they need your
personal information, simply don't give it out."
    The Office of the Privacy Commissioner undertook the survey to gain a
better understanding of Canadians views on the demands placed upon them for
personal information during retail transactions. The results will help the
Office increase the public's and businesses' understanding of their rights and
responsibilities under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic
Documents Act (PIPEDA), the federal private sector law which governs the
collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of
commercial activities.
    Under PIPEDA, businesses have an obligation, among other things, to
identify the reasons they collect personal information, to limit the amount
and type of information gathered to what is necessary, and to use the
appropriate safeguards and security measures to protect the personal
information in their care.
    The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has developed a number of tools
and resources to assist businesses in complying with PIPEDA. Last year, the
Office launched an interactive e-learning tool for retailers to help them
bring their privacy practices and policies in line with the law. The Office
also developed A Guide for Businesses and Organizations to the Personal
Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. These tools and others
are available on the Office's Web site at www.privcom.gc.ca. The survey was
conducted by Ipsos-Reid via telephone with 1001 Canadian adults. The full
report on the results is also available on the Library and Archives Canada Web
site.

    The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by
Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy rights in
Canada.




For further information:

For further information: or media interview requests, contact: Heather
Ormerod, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, (613) 995-1048,
hormerod@privcom.gc.ca


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