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Privacy-Conscious Consumers Fight Back

Many consumers are now resisting companies' requests for personal information, Canadian study says

There was a day when, if asked for their phone number or address, most people would have given it automatically. But according to a new study, those days are over.

According to a report published today by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, more than half of the country's citizens are now resisting the knee-jerk response to give out private information.

"Fifty-two per cent (of respondents) 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, the study says.

"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."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading