Privacy by Design Creator Launches Global Council

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By George R. Lynch

May 4 — Ann Cavoukian, former Ontario, Canada information and privacy commissioner, will form a new international council to advocate and set standards for privacy by design, she told Bloomberg BNA May 4 .

“I think the time has come where we have to get people all around the world to join in spreading the word that you can have privacy and security, privacy and public safety, privacy and business interests,” Cavoukian said. “I want to change the prevailing zero-sum mindset” that pits the interest of privacy versus the interest of security.

The International Council on Global Privacy and Security: By Design will work with companies, national privacy commissioners and technology professionals to educate the public and raise awareness for privacy by design.

Public Safety Issues

Cavoukian served three terms as the information privacy commissioner of Ontario, Canada from 1997 to 2014 (13 PVLR 1192, 7/7/14), and is widely-recognized as the primary creator of the privacy by design concept.

Privacy by design is an approach to technology design that embeds privacy-enhancing measures into technology at the point of design and production, and sells to consumers, technology with strong default privacy settings.

Government surveillance and requests for access to communications after terror attacks is part of what led Cavoukian to launch the council.

“Each time there is a terrorist attack, the tide rises on the part of law enforcement and others, provoking unbelievable fear, which is understandable, saying that we need to give up our privacy for public safety,” Cavoukian said.

“We need to do it now before the next terrorist incident. I'm fearful that we may go down a road that we may not be able to change later on,” she said.

The Council's Objectives

Cavoukian wants the council to work with companies and commissioners to demonstrate to the world how privacy by design can be accomplished, particularly with a view to future technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Tacking privacy tools onto technology after the fact isn't as effective as baking it into the code and making it an essential piece of the data architecture, allowing it to grow with the program, she said.

Cavoukian set out three goals for the council:

  •  educate politicians, businesses, government, media and the public that systems can and must be engineered to protect both privacy and security;
  •  create policy templates that can show how privacy can be applied to technologies in the digital age; and
  •  foster technology innovation in academic institutions around the world to foster privacy and public safety, as well as privacy and business interests, such as big data and data analytics, without sacrificing either privacy or security.


To contact the reporter on this story: George R. Lynch in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jimmy Koo at

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