Tuesday, September 30, 2008

“Radical Pragmatism” : Privacy by design

Privacy protection must be built into new technologies right from inception, according to Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian.

In a paper she delivered yesterday at the University of Waterloo, entitled “Privacy and Radical Pragmatism: Change the Paradigm “, Cavoukian argues that enhancing surveillance and security in society does not need to be at the expense of privacy. Instead, Cavoukian advocates that "privacy-enhancing technologies" can be used to counter privacy-invading tools such as biometrics, RFID (radio-frequency identification tags) and video surveillance:

By adopting a positive-sum paradigm and applying a privacy-enhancing technology to an otherwise surveillance technology, you can develop, what I am now calling, a “Transformative Technology” – transformative because you can in effect, transform the privacy-invasive features of a given technology into privacy-protective ones. Among other things, transformative technologies can literally transform technologies normally associated with surveillance into ones that are no longer exclusively privacy-invasive in nature.

In an interview with IT World, David Fewer from CIPPIC says that a lot of work still needs to be done to get the private sector on-board:

Privacy enhancing technologies are often viewed as a cost by major corporations. It will likely be the role of statutes such as PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) and other … privacy laws to push companies toward investing in these privacy-enhancing technologies.

“As of now, industries will only be forced to do it when faced with an obligation to do so by regulators or when they make some kind of mistake in the marketplace and are forced to implement these technologies by some kind of legal action,” Fewer said.”

Image by Kevin Dooley

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