"Privacy is essential to freedom," declared Dr. Ann Cavoukian, one of the world's leading experts on privacy and former Privacy Commissioner for the province of Ontario, as she addressed students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in Champlain College's Great Hall on September 28, 2015.
Dr. Cavoukian is the developer of Privacy by Design, an approach to achieving big data innovation without compromising privacy by embedding privacy into the entire process of designing and engineering data systems.
During her presentation, entitled The Need to Embed Big Privacy in a World of Big Data – by Design, Dr. Cavoukian, emphasized that privacy does not equate to secrecy; rather, privacy is a necessary condition for societal prosperity and well-being.
"The relationship between privacy and freedom is absolutely critical," Dr. Cavoukian said, pointing out that it is no accident that Germany has become the world's leading country in privacy and data protection. "They had to endure the abuses of the Third Reich and the complete cessation of all of their freedoms, starting with the removal of their privacy, and when it was over they said never again."
Dr. Cavoukian called for an end to the zero-sum mentality, which serves one interest to the exclusion of others, and to substitute it with a win-win model of privacy and functionality. "You can deliver privacy and data utility at the same time - it's not an either-or proposition and the way you do it is by embedding the necessary privacy protection measures into the design of the technology, into the data architecture. It has to be a key element of what you are offering,” she explains.
"We deal with privacy and security issues, so this was a great opportunity to meet one of the leaders in this field," said Brittany Cadence, supervisor of Communication Services at Peterborough City-County Health Unit. Ms. Cadence brought her entire IT team to the presentation and praised Trent for inviting Dr. Cavoukian to speak. "For a small organization like ours to attend a free lecture by one of the leading privacy speakers in the world is huge. We're grateful that we have a university like Trent in our backyard to give us this opportunity."
Pointing out the importance of speaking at institutions like Trent, Dr. Cavoukian said, "You have to get the message out to universities because these are the growing minds, the essence of the future generations. If they don't understand the relationship between privacy and freedom then we have no hope of preserving it in the future and that's untenable."