Majority of Canadians polled believe their data is more exposed than ever and are concerned about the threat to their privacy

TORONTO,ON – Canadians feel they have lost control of their personal data. Findings from a recent survey by Interac Corp., published during Data Privacy Week, reveal nearly eight in 10 Canadians (77 percent) feel their personal data is more exposed than ever before. Amid concerns that companies have access to too much of their data (72 percent), only 40 per cent of Canadians feel confident in their ability to keep their online personal information safe. Eight in 10 (80 per cent) want greater control over their online information and how it is shared.

“Consumers are increasingly concerned about the privacy and security of their personal data and are dissatisfied with the status quo,” said Colette Stewart, Managing Counsel and Enterprise Privacy Lead at Interac. “Our survey results underscore the opportunity to build Canadians’ confidence by simplifying the consent process for when, where, and how frequently they share their data – and subsequently the role organizations play in meeting these needs and expectations.”

The majority of Canadians (87 per cent) believe they should have the ability to tell organizations to delete their personal information whenever they choose. Canadians are also looking for consent to be simple. Six in ten (59 per cent) say they can’t clearly consent to how their personal information is shared because they don’t understand the terms and conditions they are agreeing to, and 65 per cent say it’s because the language describing data usage is often vague.

As the Federal government prepares to introduce legislation on open banking, also known as consumer-driven banking, Canadians are optimistic about its prospects and are interested in what measures will be taken to ensure their data is protected. Two thirds of Canadians (65 percent) welcome the potential open banking holds in giving them more control of their financial data. Other benefits of open banking that appeal to Canadians include the ability to securely access and share their financial data with financial service providers (54 percent) and protection from risky practices that are being used today such as screen scraping (60 percent). Additionally, nearly half (47 percent) say having the ability to revoke consent – to stop their information from being used at any moment – would enhance their confidence while using open banking.

“As Canada moves to provide consumers with greater control over financial data via consumer-driven banking, its adoption and utility hinges on strong privacy, data protection and consumer trust,” added Kashmera Self, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Interac. “At Interac, we have long focused on designing products and services that operate with individual choice at the centre and have seen first-hand the value of a privacy-first mindset in earning the trust of Canadians.”

Other key findings from the Interac survey include:

Connection concerns: The rise in connected technologies – from smart home devices to artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots – is adding to Canadians’ concerns about their personal information. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) are very concerned, while a further 44 percent are slightly concerned about how connected technologies are using their personal information – but feel the benefits of connected technologies outweigh the risks.

Mistrust abounds: Trust is withering among consumers for how their data is handled by the companies they have agreed to share it with. Two thirds of Canadians polled (66 percent) believe that companies are sharing their data and personal information with other organizations without their consent.

Inadequate solutions: The solutions available in the market today are not perceived to be meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians. More than seven in 10 Canadians (71 percent) feel the protection measures available today are not sufficient to protect their privacy.

Losing control: Nearly six in ten Canadians (59 per cent) say they are asked to share their personal information when accessing online services or purchasing products in-store or online more often than makes them comfortable. With all that data out there, just over half of Canadians (51 per cent) feel like they are losing control over their personal information.

Consent expectations: Canadians expect certain consumer protection measures to be in place, such as the ability to provide consent each time their personal data is used instead of just one-time consent (75 percent). This underscores the need for convenient consent options that allow consumers to take charge of their data on an ongoing basis.

Hill & Knowlton used the Leger Opinion online panel to survey 1,500 Canadians over the period of January 2nd to 4th, 2024. Sampling was done within age, gender, and region quotas. The length of survey was 10 minutes. Data was weighted on age, gender, and region according to 2021 census figures. Generation Z is defined as Canadians aged 18-27, Millennials are aged 28-43, Generation Xers are aged 44-59, Baby Boomers are aged 60-78, and the Silent Generation is aged 79+. An associated margin of error for a randomly selected sample of n=1,500 would be ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Interac empowers Canadians to transact digitally with confidence by providing payment and value exchange services. In helping to develop the future of money and data in Canada, security is the core of everything we do. We help keep Canadian customers safe and secure when transacting. With nearly 300 financial institutions connected to our network, Canadians choose Interac products over 20 million times a day on average to exchange money. Interac champions workplace culture, community, and corporate citizenship. We are proud to be one of Canada’s leading and most trusted financial brands.

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