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Most internet users in Canada assume conducting virtually any activity online—from participating on social media to sending an email to making a purchase—will result in a loss of privacy. But it doesn’t deter them from their digital habits.
In the aftermath of public revelations that the US National Security Agency has been monitoring normal online activities for many US residents, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) commissioned Ipsos Reid to query web users in Canada about their assumptions about privacy online. And the July 2013 survey found a strong tendency among respondents to assume little such privacy existed.
Women were more likely than men to agree that they lost their privacy when they went online, as were older internet users compared to younger ones. And respondents in Quebec were significantly less likely than those in any other province to believe they lost their privacy when they went online.
Overall, 55% of internet users reported being OK with that tradeoff—and the percentages were higher among those who were heavy users of social media, as well as among those who generally agreed that government monitoring of email was generally acceptable. But that doesn’t mean they were equally happy to lose their privacy to advertisers or merchants. While 59% of respondents thought it was acceptable to trade privacy for security, just 20% said they would exchange privacy for retail purposes.
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