Information and communications technology

Canadians' widespread and high-speed access to the world via the Internet is creating new opportunities for online crime—including bank fraud, problems with purchases, cyber-bullying, child luring, phishing and hate content—along with new risks of victimization.

Among Canadians aged 15 and older who had used the Internet in the 12 months prior to a 2009 survey, 4% reported being the victim of bank fraud on the Internet (incidents where credit or debit card information was used from an Internet source to make purchases or withdrawals without authorization).

Of those who reported making online purchases that year, 14% encountered problems. Most often these involved not receiving goods or services that had been paid for, receiving goods or services that were not as described on the website, or having extra funds taken from their account.

Email most common method of cyber-bullying

In 2009, 7% of Internet users aged 18 and older reported ever having been the victim of cyber-bullying. Most commonly, the cyber-bullying involved receiving aggressive or threatening emails or instant messages (73% of victims) and being the target of hateful comments (55%); for about 8%, the aggressor assumed the victim's identity to send threatening email.

Internet users who reported being able to trust their family members "a lot" are less likely to be cyber-bullied than those who "more or less" trust their family members (6% versus 13%). As well, francophones are less likely than anglophones to have been bullied on the Internet (5% versus 8%). For visible minorities, the proportion of those who had been bullied was similar to that for non-visible minorities (7%).

Users of chat sites or social networking sites are almost three times more likely than non-users to be cyber-bullied (14% and 11%, compared with 4% and 3%, respectively). Young adults aged 18 to 24 are about three times more likely than those aged 25 and older to report cyber-bullying (17% versus 5%); similarly, single people are over three times more likely than married and common-law couples (15% versus 4%).

Almost 1 in 4 bisexual Internet users (24%) and 1 in 5 homosexual Internet users (18%) report having been a victim of cyber-bullying, compared with 7% of heterosexual Internet users. And more than 1 in 5 Internet users aged 18 to 34 with an activity limitation (22%) say they have been cyber-bullied, compared with 10% of those with no limitation.

Relatively few incidents of cyber-bullying are reported to police. Victims are more likely to block messages from the sender (60%), to leave the Internet site (51%) or to report the situation to their Internet or email service provider (21%).

However, incidents targeting children are more commonly reported to police than those targeting adults (14% versus 7%). About 1 in 10 adults in 2009 reported that a child aged 8 to 17 living in their household had been a victim of cyber-bullying. About 2% of these adults reported that at least one of their children has been lured or sexually solicited online.

Infections: most common Internet security issue

Spyware, adware or a virus infecting a computer is the most common Internet security issue, reported by 2 out of 3 Internet users (65%) in 2009. As well, 9% reported that an email account or computer file had been hacked into and 4% had personal information made public.

Nearly 40% of Internet users reported at least one phishing attempt (receiving fraudulent emails that represent the sender as a reputable and legitimate organization requesting personal information). This proportion, as well as those for other security issues, may be underestimated because not all Internet users are aware of phishing attempts.

Internet content that promotes hate or violence

In 2009, nearly 1 in 6 Internet users (16%) reported having come across content that promoted hatred or violence toward an identifiable group, whether accidentally or by searching for it. However, not everyone was equally likely to find such material. For example, nearly 1 in 3 youth or young adults aged 15 to 24 (30%) reported finding hate content, more than double the proportion of those 25 and older (12%).

Ethnic or religious groups are the most commonly reported targets, reported by over half (57%) of Internet users who came across hate content in 2009, followed by homosexuals (21%), women (16%), Aboriginal people (15%) and immigrants (14%).

Chart 19.1 Hate content on  the Internet, by target group of the hate content, 2009
View data source for chart 19.1

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