Ann Cavoukian—2014 International Privacy Day
International Privacy Day, held annually on January 28, encourages everyone to make protecting privacy and data a greater priority. Here is the former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, Dr. Ann Cavoukian speaking about the importance of privacy by design..
By far, the biggest story arising from the steady stream of revelations from Edward Snowden, who has exposed what appears to be a seemingly endless litany of privacy invasions, is just how deeply governments have been peering into our everyday lives. Further, in direct contrast to Canada’s positive international reputation, many were shocked to discover just how intertwined our secretive Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is with the NSA in undermining the privacy of ordinary law-abiding citizens — with little to no transparency or accountability.
In our free and democratic society, government must always be transparent and open to scrutiny by its citizens if our freedom is to survive. Accountability is paramount and we must always remember that the government is supposed to serve at the pleasure of the governed. In addition, governments should only be permitted to access personal information when authorized by law. When it comes to state surveillance, it is crucial that strong privacy protections be put into place. This can be made possible through Commissioner Cavoukian’s concept of Privacy-Protective Surveillance (PPS), which builds on Privacy by Design. An extension of artificial intelligence, PPS allows for privacy and strong counter-terrorism measures to co-exist in tandem, without diminishing intelligence-gathering capabilities — a positive-sum, win-win solution.
The dystopian science fiction of the past appears to be becoming a reality. Our personal information is being widely shared among entities over which we have no control, over in ways that contravene even the most basic principles of privacy and freedom. We can no longer be complacent and allow government intelligence agencies to wield such unsupervised power. We know so little of what our own government in Canada is doing with our personal information. We must speak out now, before it is too late. We must preserve our privacy, preserve our freedom — now, and well into the future.