KINGSTON, Ont. -- Almost half of Canadians and even more Americans say they find new laws aimed at protecting national security post 9/11 intrusive.
That's just one of the wide-ranging findings of a survey on the surveillance and privacy attitudes and experiences of 9,000 people in eight countries initiated by the Queen's University-based Surveillance Project. The multi-disciplinary group is studying the Globalization of Personal Data (GPD) and the surveillance associated with that flow – by governments, employers, and via technologies like personal computers, biometrics and global-positioning systems – on ordinary people.
"We are seeing a high level of concern in many parts of the world about the intrusiveness of these post 9/11 laws. Fifty-seven per cent of Americans and 47 per cent of Canadians said that these laws are intrusive," says Elia Zureik, lead researcher. He went on to say, "these findings resonate with the recent Ontario Supreme Court ruling about the unconstitutionality of parts of Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation in Canada."
This is believed to be the first cross-cultural study of its kind that explores relationships between attitudes and experiences, and how much people trust corporations and governments to handle personal information, including the sharing of such information with third parties, the researcher says.
Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the survey included nearly 50 questions on participant's attitudes about issues like consumer surveillance, racial profiling at airports, national ID cards, media coverage of surveillance issues, workplace privacy, knowledge of privacy regulations, control over personal data and public trust in government.
The answers reveal a variety of cultural commonalities and differences culled from participants in Canada, the U.S., China, France, Spain, Hungary, Mexico and Brazil. Except for the survey in China, which was carried out by the Deputy Director of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences, the surveys were carried out by Ipsos Reid.
Across the globe a majority of respondents:
Culturally distinctive survey findings include:
"We have learned that there is an urgent need to educate the public about the complexities of the information age, to demand organizational and governmental accountability with regard to handling personal data, and to develop appropriate theory to explain and predict flows of personal data and to connect this with privacy ethics and government policy," Dr. Zureik says.
A team of international surveillance experts will meet at Queen's later this week to further study the data collected by survey.
For more information on the Surveillance Project, an executive summary of the GPD survey findings or pdf version of the survey's Ipsos Reid report, go to:
To learn more about Research at Queen's http://www.queensu.ca/research/
Lorinda Peterson, 613-533-3234, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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