Privacy by design

December 7, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Tyler in aristocratic poseNow, for this post I want you to go elsewhere. I want you watch a video (which I can’t link to). I want you to go here and watch Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario, Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioner speak with eloquence about information privacy and how we can build privacy into the design of technology. So instead of putting up with me ranting about the loss of our privacy, you can listen to someone who really understands what is going on.

Her message is – never assume that personal data must be routinely collected, retained and disclosed. We must challenge this view and know that privacy is within our control. Privacy is about freedom and it’s a fundamental human right. The basis of democracy is not having to reveal everything to the State, you reveal what is required and then the State has the responsibility to protect your data. She encourages us to challenge threats to privacy that impinge on freedom and look carefully at things that expand the web of surveillance in our post-9/11 world. Reject the notions of expanded nets of surveillance as it will ultimately cost us our privacy and freedom.

She talks about how data minimisation as a notion is growing – we can eliminate data collection at the source or minimise it by building in ways to protect privacy. She gives me hope about privacy enhancing technologies (or PETs) which she says already exist. Examples of PETs are: encryption (less expensive than cleaning up after a data breach); authentication or credential systems that do not reveal your identity; Off the Record Messaging; Elliptical Curve Cryptography; deactivating RFID tags at point of sale.

80% of the population can be identified by three pieces of information – date of birth, gender and zip or post code. So it’s in our interest to educate ourselves around what we can do to protect privacy. The video is about one hour long but it’s essential viewing and Dr Cavoukian is very easy to listen to.

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Entry filed under: Privacy, Technology.

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