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Study: Canadian websites and personal data leakage

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has released the results into a study of the disclosure of personal information by Canadian websites. Of the 25 sites examined, the study found that 25% were inappropriately sharing the personal information of registered users with third parties such as advertising companies. This personal information, including names, email addresses and postal codes, was being disclosed without the knowledge or consent of the users.  According to the office, this is possibly a violation of federal privacy law. According to the study, the data leakage occurred ways that would be invisible to most people using the sites and, in some cases, did not appear to be in keeping with statements made in the privacy policies of these sites. According to the study, the sites examined were large, popular websites aimed at Canadians, including media, shopping and travel services. "The research findings raise concerns for the privacy rights of Canadians," said Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. "Web leakage can involve the disclosure of personal information without an individual's consent- or even knowledge. Our research also raises questions about compliance with Canadian privacy law in the online world. Our research serves as a wake-up call to all online services to ensure they are complying with Canadian law and respecting the privacy rights of people who use their sites. It is clearly possible for organizations to operate successfully in the online world without leaking people's personal information. A majority of the websites we looked at were not doing it."

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