Canadians want user-friendly information about privacy policies

Canadians want user-friendly information about privacy policies

In a study commissioned and guided by the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA)’s Privacy and Data Advisory committee, it was found that consumers want to read privacy policies, but they have to be user-friendly.

The survey, undertaken to provide insights on privacy-related consumer views and released to mark Data Privacy Day, sought to identify some of the reasons why Canadians do not read privacy policies. It identified that while most Canadians say they read parts of privacy policies, one quarter admit they don’t read policies at all, mainly because they find privacy policies are too long and difficult to understand. Large numbers show interest in reading user-friendly information to support privacy policies, like summaries of terms or plain language explanations.

Conducted by Environics Research, the survey provides CMA and its Privacy and Data Advisory committee with valuable input to develop best practice guidance for marketers to better communicate about data use and privacy. 


How informed are Canadians about Canadian Data Privacy laws, their rights and the obligations of companies they interact with?

There are nearly twice as many Canadians (39%) who admit they are uninformed about data privacy laws than those (20%) who say they feel informed.

Do Canadians read privacy policies? Why or why not?

The majority of Canadians show an interest in reading privacy policies. About 60% of Canadians say they typically read parts of the policies, while one-quarter (25%) say they don’t read policies at all. When asked why privacy policies are not read in detail, it is most often said to be a result of the length, complexity of the language, and/or lack of choice.

Do Canadians feel they receive enough information related to data privacy from organizations?

There is an appetite among a plurality of Canadians (41%) for more information from companies pertaining to data privacy. It is important to note however, that almost 60% feel they either receive enough or too much information from companies. What does this tell us? Perhaps it indicates that companies are actively providing consumers with privacy information, but that they still need to find better communication formats and channels to satisfy a greater segment of the population with respect to their privacy concerns.

What do Canadians care about?

While the majority of Canadians are concerned about data security (57%), transparency (45%) and choice (34%), there is evidence that Canadians are less concerned about how companies monetize anonymized/aggregated data (20%) and their use of third party service providers (15%).

Potential solutions to Canadians’ concerns

Large majorities (84% to 93%) show interest in user-friendly options to support privacy policies. Additional information such as a summary of the key terms, providing information about settings, highlighting changes to policies, and FAQs could be used to encourage consumers to read about privacy information. This could also potentially improve the trust that consumers have with companies.


For a copy of the report and media release, please visit the CMA Privacy Hub.  

Cristina Onosé Director, Government Relations Canadian Marketing Association

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Tags: canadian, privacy, data, survey, marketing, policy