A landmark resolution by Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, was approved by international Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem today at their annual conference.
The resolution recognizes Commissioner Cavoukian’s concept of Privacy by Design – which ensures that privacy is embedded into new technologies and business practices, right from the outset – as an “essential component of fundamental privacy protection.” The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and Commissioners from Berlin, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Estonia, also:
“We live in an era of enhanced surveillance: data mining, behavioural profiling, targeted and discriminatory practices, and cloud computing,” Commissioner Cavoukian told her counterparts from around the world. “If we want to preserve the privacy that so many of our freedoms rest upon, beyond the next decade, we need to commit to a new approach, and we need to do it now.”
Citing ubiquitous connectivity, new paradigms of information sharing, and online social media that have emerged over the last few years, Commissioner Cavoukian called the current moment “a tipping point” for privacy.
“Unless we act now, privacy as we know it will be gone – lost beyond our grasp – by the year 2020,” said Commissioner Cavoukian earlier this week during a key plenary address at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.
Today’s resolution marks a sea-change in how the international community will go about preserving privacy, well into the future.
“The velocity of the market drives development of new technologies at a dizzying pace, far beyond what legislative efforts can keep up with,” Cavoukian stated. “Reactive regulatory measures alone are no longer sustainable as the sole vehicle for ensuring the future of privacy. This resolution is a commitment to taking swift action now to implement the principles of Privacy by Design and make privacy the default, going forward.”
Privacy by Design (PbD), a concept developed by Commissioner Cavoukian back in the ’90s, is being adopted globally by a growing number of organizations and jurisdictions. It prescribes that privacy be built directly into the design and operation, not only of various technologies, but also of business processes and networked infrastructure. Instead of treating privacy as an after-thought – “bolting it on after the fact” – PbD is proactive and preventative in nature – a highly effective approach in today’s world of increasingly interconnected technologies and extensive data collection. (For more information, see http://www.privacybydesign.ca.)