They built in privacy…so can you

Every year, my office hosts an annual event known as the Privacy by Design (PbD) Challenge where a distinguished group of speakers relate their personal success stories with PbD and the dividends they gained for their organizations.

Last year’s event was a great success, attended by over 250 public and private sector business leaders and academics. 

Since last year, the concept of PbD has grown dramatically and is now an established archetype in the field of privacy protection. For that reason, this year’s event – Privacy by Design: The Gold Standard – will focus on the implementation of new technologies, business practices, and infrastructure in a manner that can deliver tangible results on the promise of PbD.

My theme for this year is, We did it … so can you,” and nothing demonstrates this theme better than Google’s recent announcement that it will be enabling HTTPS encryption for all Gmail users – by default. Last summer I issued a paper entitled, If You Want to Protect Your Privacy, Secure Your Gmail, to which we had a very positive response from Google. I consider this latest development a huge success for PbD. I applaud Google for their bold leadership in the field of privacy protection and I can only hope that other providers of online services follow their example. If a company with the size and stature of Google can adopt PbD, then anyone can. 

This year’s Privacy by Design Challenge will host privacy experts who will share their insights regarding a wide range of practices including, the impact of ubiquitous computing on assisted living; the latest developments in privacy-protected video surveillance; and the use of state of the art encryption to protect mobile personal information … to name but a few. Among those who will be speaking are two visionaries who are helping to set the stage for future applications of PbD. They are, Dr. Kai Rannenberg who is the T-Moblie Chair for Mobile Business and Multilateral Security at Goethe University, Frankfurt; and N. Arthur Smith who is the founder and CEO of GS1 Canada.

In addition, Nymity, CryptoMill Technologies and MaRS Centre will also have exhibitions on hand – with innovation incubator MaRS showcasing leading edge technology, with privacy solutions embedded, from a number of its Ontario-based companies including, Bering Media, CognoVision, Connectedn, Mensante Corp., PrivIT Healthcare and Skymeter.

While these events have a different theme each year, one goal remains the same throughout – to enable organizations to realize the Positive-Sum or win/win promise of Privacy by Design.  This is the opposite of the dated win/lose zero-sum approach, wherein only one party may win. We want to help organizations answer the ever-increasing requirements to protect their customers’ and clients’ personal information, while at the same time advancing the security and functionality of their technology, processes and infrastructure.  Effective protection of personal information is a critical business requirement and a very real opportunity for organizations to build confidence and trust with their stakeholders.

This year’s event was designed to help private and public sector leaders gain valuable insights into how the use of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies in a positive-sum manner (the Plus in PETs Plus) will bolster their organization’s commitment to protecting personal information, in addition to inspiring fresh, creative insights for entrepreneurs and product developers. Those in academia will also be exposed to a broad range of current-day topics to share with their peers and students – increasing their value in the workforce, while enabling them to build on Canada’s strong legacy of privacy protection.

As I often say, PbD is not just a theoretical construct; it is intended, at its essence, to serve as a practical tool. Over the past 10 years, my staff and I have become increasingly involved in helping public and private sector organizations adopt PbD in various, diverse fields with concrete results such as: biometric encryption; secure video object coding for video surveillance; and general infrastructure projects such as SmartPrivacy for the Smart Grid.

Encouraged by these advancements, I urge you to participate in this year’s event. Embedding privacy as the default is an achievable reality, and as a privacy professional and Commissioner, I pledge my support to any organization that seeks to adopt PbD. Privacy by Design was not developed for use in an ivory tower. It was intended to create real and positive changes to our everyday lives with regards to growing our privacy – I invite you to join us in this innovative process.

This year’s PbD Challenge will take place on January 28, at the Toronto Board of Trade. For more information, please visit or contact my office at 416-326-3333 / (toll-free) 1-800-387-0073. You can also follow Privacy by Design on Twitter @embedprivacy

Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.

Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Blogger Spotlight

Latest Blogs

ITB in your inbox

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.