Ontario puts IBM privacy partnership to good use

* Ontario’s privacy commissioner has put its relationship with IBM Canada Ltd.’s Tivoli business group to good use, signing up Big Blue to develop a “”digital template”” for the province’s new privacy legislation — at no cost to the government.

* The project stems from the government’s long-standing

relationship with Big Blue, according to Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner. “”My office has a history of doing joint projects,”” she says. “”There’s no cost involved, certainly not for us.””

* Last fall, IBM began converting the province’s new Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) into electronic form, using a computer language called the Enterprise Privacy Authorization Language (EPAL). According to Big Blue, EPAL will help translate government-speak into IT-friendly, extensible markup language (XML) applications. The conversion phase ended this February, and now the government is hoping to test the template with “”dummy data”” before rolling it out officially. “”It’s got to work in fact, not just theory,”” Cavoukian says.

While the provincial government has had its own privacy rules for the past 15 years, privacy legislation is new for Ontario’s private sector, according to Cavoukian. It’s important to make sure companies can comply with FIPPA as easily as possible.

* By automating parts of the process — while ensuring humans keep control over final decision-making — Cavoukian hopes to help reduce the human and financial resources required for firms to become compliant. Having an electronic system will also help maintain consistency, she adds.

* Next steps could see similar templates rolled out across the country, at provincial and federal levels, Cavoukian says. Other governments have expressed keen interest in automating privacy laws, although many are still taking a wait-and-see approach. “”This is really leading edge. I think people are looking at our experience before they proceed.””

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