Appointed as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada in 1997, Dr. Ann Cavoukian served for an unprecedented three terms as Commissioner. In that time, she elevated the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner from a novice regulatory body to a first-class agency, known around the world for its cutting edge innovation and leadership. Dr. Cavoukian is best known for her creation of Privacy by Design – unanimously adopted as an international framework for privacy and data protection in 2010; now translated into 38 languages. As of July 1, 2014, she began a new position at Ryerson University as the Executive Director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute – Where Big Data meets Big Privacy.
What are the biggest opportunities in Digital ID and authentication? The opportunities in digital ID and authentication are huge. One of the major opportunities will be the ability to provide identity and authentication in a finite manner, sharing only what is needed and nothing more. Canadians should have the ability to provide the necessary identification requirements, without exposing any other unrelated personal information. For example, when a young person goes to a bar, the only information that the bar is required to obtain from the customer is their age. Why then, should the bouncer be given access to their home address, postal code, or any other personal information that may be listed on a piece of ID? Implementing an authentication process that ensures the required protocol is satisfied, without exposing any unnecessary personal information is critical for preserving privacy. Ten years from now, we will look back on how we used to do identification/authentication and think of it as the dark ages of identity. Digital ID and authentication also provides a significant opportunity for businesses and governments. Both businesses and governments have the ability to increase the trust and loyalty of their clients by ensuring that privacy is a priority in their offerings. Organizations that demonstrate a focus on privacy will enjoy a competitive advantage - with clients being willing to share and engage more with organizations who have earned their trust. Public distrust is at an all-time high. Accordingly, businesses and governments that are going the extra mile to protect their clients’ privacy should be shouting about it from the rooftops. How do we balance the needs of individual people and businesses and governments? I reject the basic premise of the question. “Balance” suggests that this is a zero-sum proposition: it is not. It is vitally important that we abandon the language of “balance” and “trade-off” when referring to privacy and innovation. These words imply a zero-sum, either/or result, namely that increasing one interest must be to the detriment of another: win/lose. I believe that both privacy and innovation are increased when Privacy by Design is considered up front. We need to embrace multi-enabling digital ID and authentication systems that promote innovation, security and privacy, not one, at the expense of another. Within a positive-sum framework all stakeholders can win - business, government and Canadians. Whose responsibility is it to educate Canadians on privacy in the digital economy? Everyone has a role to play in educating Canadians on the opportunities of the digital world in order to help them navigate questions around privacy. I would suggest that, as the owners of the frameworks, business and government must take the lead and start by placing privacy at the centre of their operations. They are the ones building the ecosystem and have the greatest ability to educate Canadians, in an effort to shape their behaviour around strong digital privacy. For their part, individuals must also take some responsibility, in an effort to control the amount of personal information they release online, for potentially anyone to access. Do you have any final messages for the IdentityNorth community? People think that privacy stands in the way of innovation: it’s the exact opposite - privacy breeds innovation! The biggest risk - especially after a security incident- is to fall back on the belief that this is a zero-sum game, in which we must forfeit privacy, in order to obtain public safety. The demise of privacy would be if people take the either/or view. We need to abandon the language of trade-offs and promote a spirit of innovation and collaboration that incorporates privacy from the very start, along with other interests such as security – we can, and must have both. I am particularly encouraged by recent wins like the fact that the principles of Privacy by Design and Privacy as the Default are now codified in Article 23 of the European Data Protection Regulation.
This is an important step forward and has me excited about a future world that preserves privacy, which forms the foundation of our freedoms.
What Attendees are saying
“The only conference in Canada where one can meet the who’s who of knowledgeable people and champions of digital identity to discuss the real issues and opportunities in this space.” Dave Nikolejsin, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines at Government of British Columbia
“A fantastic platform bringing together Canadian thought leaders and key industry experts to promote innovation in digital identity and authentication.” Mike Vanderkaden, VP Corporate Development, Equifax Canada