Feeds

Want to avoid all private-data breaches, ever? Here's how

Wilderness guru speaks, world listens

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Interview As information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, Ann Cavoukian's jurisdiction is limited to the Canadian province. But that doesn't mean the effects of her post don't extend into territories across the globe.

“What I always say is privacy transcends jurisdiction,” she says. “It knows no boundaries. So if I'm going to protect the privacy of people in my jurisdiction, I'm going to protect privacy everywhere. Everyone is using Google, Facebook. How do you ensure that the information you give to these people or collect from them is safe anywhere? So to me, privacy is a global issue.”

Indeed, the Privacy by Design initiative she spearheaded has become an internationally recognized recipe for embedding privacy protections into the very fabric of a website or product.

Photo of Ann Cavoukian

Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian

She put those design principles to the test a few years ago when the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation began using facial recognition technology in casinos to spot people who identified themselves as gambling addicts. To prevent police, Casino employees, or others from accessing the database and using the contents for unauthorized purposes, the system adopted what's known as biometric encryption.

Developed by researchers from the University of Toronto, biometric encryption binds a random key with the biometric data to create a private template that's unique and can't be cross-matched with other databases. The key can be retrieved only when a fresh biometric sample from one of the problem gamblers is presented, making it hard for the data to be tapped for other purposes.

El Reg recently caught up with Commissioner Cavoukian at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

The Register:Tell us more about Privacy by Design.

Cavoukian: My message through Privacy by Design is try to prevent the harm from arising to begin with. It's a preventative approach. It's proactive, it's holistic. Don't wait for the privacy harm to arise and then you, the business, have to assume the regulatory burden of compliance with the legislation and the ramifications of that breach in terms of loss to your business, to your brand, and the cost of lawsuits.

So that's what Privacy by Design is. It's coming before the privacy harm has arisen. And if you can do that as a business, and we'll tell you how to do it, then you can gain a sustainable competitive advantage. There's a significant payoff to be had by protecting privacy.

Do you find by mandating that certain protections or practices are followed in your province, it ultimately means those practices are going to be followed universally?

It's not a definite, but this one I can say absolutely. I put forth a resolution on Privacy by Design to make it an international standard, and it was unanimously passed [at the International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners Conference last year in Jerusalem]. What that means is Privacy by Design, this proactive framework, is now being adopted globally, in all jurisdictions, including here in the United States.

[The US Federal Trade Commission adopted Privacy by Design in December.]

So it is an international framework now for privacy protection, and people, regulators, everyone is saying if you can do this Privacy by Design thing you're way better because you prevent so much of the burden that arises after a privacy harm takes place.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Docker kicks KVM's butt in IBM tests
Big Blue finds containers are speedy, but may not have much room to improve
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?
Enough hot air to carry a balloon to the Moon
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Dell The Man shrieks: 'We've got a Bitcoin order, we've got a Bitcoin order'
$50k of PowerEdge servers? That'll be 85 coins in digi-dosh
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.