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PlaceSpeak and Privacy = Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum


Here is the fourth post in our series on how PlaceSpeak is committed to the protection of our participants’ personal information and our persistent efforts in ensuring their privacy.

PlaceSpeak is recognized as a Privacy by Design Ambassador. Privacy by Design is a concept developed by Ontario’s former Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, in the 1990’s, to address the ever-growing and systemic effects of Information and Communication Technologies, and of large–scale networked data systems. The goals of Privacy by Design — ensuring privacy and gaining personal control over one’s information and, for organizations, gaining a sustainable competitive advantage — is accomplished by practicing the 7 Foundational Principles.

The third principle focuses on ‘full functionality’ —i.e. demonstrating that is it is possible to have both privacy AND security.

Full Functionality: Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum

Privacy by Design seeks to accommodate all legitimate interests and objectives in a positive-sum “win-win” manner, not through a dated, zero-sum approach, where unnecessary trade-offs are made. Privacy by Design avoids the pretense of false dichotomies, such as privacy vs. security, demonstrating that it is possible to have both.

Here is Dr. Cavoukian talking about the importance of a positive-sum approach to privacy:



PlaceSpeak is about citizen empowerment. Neither proponents nor participants should have to choose between preserving their privacy and experiencing the full functionality of the platform to engage in meaningful consultation.


PlaceSpeak’s mission is to empower people everywhere to provide their verifiable feedback on public consultations, and we believe the best way to achieve that mission is by combining the values of a non-profit with the flexibility and innovation of a tech startup. We’re a new kind of company: a “social enterprise,” using the power of business for social good. Like most companies, PlaceSpeak has a business model that allows us to grow rapidly and be financially self-sustaining, providing thousands of people with a free public consultation platform. But unlike many companies, our business is social good.


Both the participants and proponents are able to take full advantage of the platform without concern for their privacy. The user feels comfortable engaging in consultations knowing that their information is secure. Proponents know that feedback is coming from a verified person in a specific geographic location to generate reliable data to inform their decision-making.


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