Canadian Organizations Need to Do More to Reassure Customers About How Their Data is Used

Today, Cisco published its 2023 Data Privacy Benchmark. The sixth annual global survey investigates professionals’ perspectives on data privacy strategies. This year’s report finds that despite a difficult economic environment, organizations continue to invest in privacy, with global spending up significantly from $1.2 million just three years ago to $2.7 million this year. 

The survey also finds that organizations’ privacy priorities differ with those expressed by consumers. The study finds a significant disconnect between data privacy measures by companies and what consumers expect from organizations, especially when it relates to how organizations apply and use Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Cisco 2022 Consumer Privacy Survey showed 60 per cent of global consumers are concerned about how organizations apply and use AI today, and 65 per cent already have lost trust in organizations over their AI practices. Consumers also said the top approach for making them more comfortable would be to provide opportunities for them to opt out of AI-based solutions. Yet, the privacy benchmark shows providing opt-out opportunities was selected least (10 per cent) among the options Canadian organizations would put in place to reassure consumers – far lower than the global average of 22 per cent.

“When it comes to earning and building trust, compliance is not enough,” said Harvey Jang, Cisco Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer. Transparency was the top priority for global consumers (39 percent) to trust companies, whilst global organizations surveyed felt compliance was the number one priority for building customer trust (30 per cent).

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Even though 96 per cent of global organizations believe they have processes in place to meet the responsible and ethical standards that customers expect for AI-based solutions and services, 88 percent of Canadian respondents believe their organization needs to do more to reassure customers about their data.

Over 70 per cent of organizations surveyed indicated they were getting “significant” or “very significant” benefits from privacy investments, such as building trust with customers, reducing sales delays, or mitigating losses from data breaches. On average, organizations are getting benefits estimated to be 1.5 times spending, and 94 per cent of global respondents indicated they believe the benefits of privacy outweigh the costs overall.

With privacy as a critical business priority, more organizations recognize that everyone across their organization plays a vital role in protecting data. This year, 95 per cent of global respondents said that “all of their employees” need to know how to protect data privacy. “An organization’s approach to privacy impacts more than compliance,” said Dev Stahlkopf, Cisco Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. “Investment in privacy drives business value across sales, security, operations, and most importantly, trust.”

Privacy legislation plays an important role in enabling governments to hold organizations accountable for how they manage personal data, and 157 countries (up from 145 last year) now have privacy laws in place. Even though complying with these laws involves significant effort and cost, 74 per cent of corporate respondents in Canada said privacy laws have had a positive impact. Although 88 per cent of Canadian respondents believe their data would be safer if stored only within their country or region, research indicates this does not hold up once costs, security and other trade-offs are considered. Remarkably, 91 per cent also said that a global provider, operating at scale, can better protect the data compared to local providers.

The benchmark is an anonymous survey across 26 geographies of more than 3100 security professionals familiar with data privacy.