|Demonstrators hold placards supporting former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden during a protest against government surveillance on October 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. AFP/Getty Images
Canadians are growing more wary about their privacy on the Internet, according to a new survey commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
The poll, released Monday, found that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians are worried about hackers stealing their banking information or personal messages and photos. The same percentage of Canadians reported they’re concerned about private companies tracking their Internet usage and attempting to monetize their information.
More than half (52 per cent) reported that they’re concerned about government and law enforcement authorities monitoring their Internet activity.
The poll comes as the governing Conservatives are moving two controversial pieces of legislation on Internet monitoring and information sharing through Parliament. Bill C-13, introduced in the name of cyberbullying victims, gives private companies legal immunity for handing over their users’ personal information to authorities.
Bill S-4, the digital privacy act, allows private companies to exchange their users’ information in the context of an investigation into a contract breach.
The government also intends to table new cybersecurity legislation in the coming months, though very little information about the “Protection of Canada’s Vital Cyber Systems Act” has been released. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s office refused to comment on the upcoming legislation when contacted by the Star last week.
The poll asked Internet users’ opinions in 24 countries, including nations that severely restrict their citizens’ use of the Internet such as China. An overwhelming majority of respondents (83 per cent) said they believe affordable access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right.
Fen Hampson, director of the security and politics program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said that across the board people are starting to become more concerned about their Internet security.
“Fears about human security have moved from the physical world to now include the virtual world,” Hampson said in a release. “There is a gaping trust deficit in the Internet as people around the globe increasingly worry that their online identities and communications will be compromised or stolen by those who operate in the dark recesses of the Internet.”
The poll also asked about what people are doing about that fear. It found that while 60 per cent of respondents had heard of American whistleblower Edward Snowden and revelations about mass Internet spying, only 30 per cent had taken measures to protect their privacy online.
Of those 30 per cent, almost half said they now avoid certain websites, while 39 per cent say they change their passwords regularly.
The global survey was conducted by pollster Ipsos between Oct. 7 and Nov. 12. Approximately 1,000 users in each of the 24 countries were surveyed, the results weighted to their countries’ online population. Ipsos said the polling is considered accurate with 3.5 percentage points.