The development of the concept of Privacy has been the result of the decisive individual
actions of a group of people to whom we owe thanks and respect. There are also malignant
personalities, to whom we will also dedicate attention.
The first place in this collection of notables is Dr. Ann Cavoukian.
Born in Cairo to a family of Armenian origin, she emigrated at age six with her family to
Toronto. Doctor in Psychology specializing in Criminology.
In 1980, she headed the Investigation branch of the provincial prosecutor, and joined the
Office of the Commissioner of Information and Privacy in 1987. She was the first Director of
Compliance and was finally appointed as Assistant Commissioner in 1990.
In 1997 she was appointed Commissioner of Information and Privacy of Ontario, an
independent position of the regional Government. She has been the only one to fulfill a third
mandate. She had a fundamental role in the regulation of parental knowledge in cases of
adoption, opposing the law that allowed the opening of sealed documents.
In 2004, the PHIPA (Personal Health Information Protection Act) was redacted following the
recommendations that Cavoukian had promoted since 1987. It was the first health information
privacy legislation that regulated the collection, use and availability of personal health
information. Since then, the Office of the Commissioner was in charge of monitoring
Cavoukian appears regularly in mainstream media In Canada, and is usually interviewed as an
authority every time there is an event related to privacy and large companies.
Ann Cavoukian is recognized as the creator of the "Privacy by Design" concept. It is an
approach to Systems Engineering in which Privacy has to be taken into consideration during
the entire process of creating an IT solution.
The concept of Privacy by Design was formalized in a joint dossier between the Cavoukian
Commissioner of Ontario and the Dutch data protection authorities dated 1995. In 2009 the
definitive structure was published, which was approved by the International Assembly of
Privacy Commissioners and Data Protection Authorities in Jerusalem in October 2010.
Cavoukian approach to privacy has been criticized for being vague, difficult to implement,
and to apply to certain disciplines, as well as prioritizing corporate interests over the interests
of consumers and not putting enough emphasis on minimizing the collection of data.
The General Regulation of European Data Protection incorporates the concept of Privacy by
Design. From my personal point of view, Cavoukian’s work is impressive, with a profound overall and long-term vision. Of course, adaptation to reality requires incorporating new concepts, but the simple idea that solutions to problems must have privacy from the beginning is, in my opinion, the best approach that reaffirms the confidence on human beings.
She was ranked among the 25 most recognized Women of Influence in Canada, recognizing
her contribution to the Canadian and global economy; and was named one of the 100 best
innovative citizens in the world by UBM Future Cities for her passionate defense of privacy
through design . She was chosen as one of the Power 50 by Canadian Business magazine for her untiring efforts as a champion of privacy and received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of Guelph.
She was selected for Maclean magazine List of the top 50 Canadians and was chosen as one of the 10 best women in data security, compliance and privacy to follow on Twitter. Cavoukian was also recognized as the Founder of the Digital Economy of Canada at IdentityNORTH 2016, named as one of the 100 Best Leaders in Identity – 2017 and most recently, in May 2017, she received the Canadian Meritorious Service Medal for her excellent work in the Creation of Privacy by Design and globalization.
If someone should head the Olympus of Privacy, it is Ann Cavoukian.