Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian: We have to protect privacy globally or we protect it nowhere!

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Posted on: July 26, 2013 / Last Modified: September 23, 2021

This Wednesday I was very privileged to interview Dr. Ann Cavoukian. Dr. Cavoukian is the information and privacy commissioner of the province of Ontario (Canada) as well as the creator and foremost global champion of the privacy by design philosophy. She has been one of the most vocal proponents of privacy and the fact that it doesn’t have to come at the price of security or innovation. And so, I was very happy to visit the privacy commissioner’s office and interview her for Singularity 1 on 1.


During our 45 minute conversation with Dr. Ann Cavoukian we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: why privacy is vital for freedom; her background as an Armenian born in Egypt; her personal goals and motivation; why privacy and security (or technological innovation) is not a zero-sum game; the main responsibilities and legal powers of the privacy commissioner’s office; privacy by design as the proactive/preventative default solution to positive sum outcomes; the seven founding principles of privacy by design; NSA’s PRISM program, surveillance by design and false positives; why metadata is more important and revealing than content; why she believes that we owe a debt of gratitude to people such as Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange; whether enhanced privacy helps or hurts a company’s bottom line; Digital Rights Management (DRM) and open source software; the internet of things and privacy by design; what we can do to fight for and protect our own privacy…

My favorite quotes that I will take away from this conversation with Dr. Cavoukian are:

Privacy knows no borders: we have to protect privacy globally or we protect it nowhere!


Have hope!  […] Challenge the view that privacy is dead! […] Uphold privacy and know that you can have it. Know that we must have it! We must have privacy and freedom – that’s what it means to be human.

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full. To show your support you can write a review on iTunesmake a direct donation or become a patron on Patreon.


Who is Dr. Ann Cavoukian?

P1060304Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the leading privacy experts in the world. Noted for her seminal work on Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) in 1995, her concept of Privacy by Design seeks to proactively embed privacy into the design specifications of information technology and accountable business practices, thereby achieving the strongest protection possible. In October, 2010, regulators from around the world gathered at the annual assembly of International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem, Israel, and unanimously passed a landmark Resolution recognizing Privacy by Design as an essential component of fundamental privacy protection. This was followed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s inclusion of Privacy by Design as one of its three recommended practices for protecting online privacy – a major validation of its significance.

An avowed believer in the role that technology can play in the protection of privacy, Dr. Cavoukian’s leadership has seen her office develop a number of tools and procedures to ensure that privacy is strongly protected, not only in Canada, but around the world. She has been involved in numerous international committees focused on privacy, security, technology and business, and endeavours to focus on strengthening consumer confidence and trust in emerging technology applications.

Dr. Cavoukian serves as the Chair of the Identity, Privacy and Security Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is also a member of several Boards including, the European Biometrics Forum, Future of Privacy Forum, RIM Council, and has been conferred as a Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Institute. Dr. Cavoukian was honoured with the prestigious Kristian Beckman Award in 2011 for her pioneering work on Privacy by Design and privacy protection in modern international environments. In the same year, Dr. Cavoukian was also named by Intelligent Utility Magazine as one of the Top 11 Movers and Shakers for the Global Smart Grid industry, received the SC Canada Privacy Professional of the Year Award and was honoured by the University of Alberta Information Access and Protection of Privacy Program for her positive contribution to the field of privacy.

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