Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute, Ryerson University
Dr. Ann Cavoukian
Former Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian – Ontario's longest serving Information and Privacy Commissioner
Initially appointed Commissioner in 1997, Dr. Ann Cavoukian served for an unprecedented three terms. In that time, she elevated the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) from a novice regulatory body to a first-class agency, known around the world for its cutting edge innovation and leadership.
Dr. Cavoukian began her career in the early 1980s, working as the head of the Research Services Department at the Office of the Attorney General of Ontario. At that time, the Honourable Justice Sidney Linden was serving as Ontario's first Public Complaints Commissioner, conducting independent reviews of complaints against the police. When he was subsequently appointed Ontario's first Information and Privacy Commissioner in 1987, he asked Ann to join him as the first Director of Compliance, overseeing the investigative side of the IPC. A decade later she received her first appointment as Commissioner.
Now recognized as one of the leading privacy experts in the world, Dr. Cavoukian is an avowed believer in the role that technology can play in protecting privacy. Her ground-breaking 1995 paper, Privacy-Enhancing Technologies: The Path to Anonymity, laid the foundation for her magnum opus, Privacy by Design (PbD) – which is now recognized as the world's gold standard in privacy protection.
Building upon PbD, Dr. Cavoukian also developed Access by Design to demonstrate the vital role access to information plays in our democratic society. One of Dr. Cavoukian's favourite quotes with regards to freedom of information came from former Ontario Attorney General, the Honourable Ian Scott, who once said, "We do not, and never will, accept the proposition that the business of the public is none of the public's business." She often liked to tell her audience that the government must always be reminded that it is there at the pleasure of the governed, and that access to government information is not a privilege, but an essential right that is vital to a healthy and functioning democracy.
Throughout her tenure as Commissioner, Dr. Cavoukian has delivered keynotes at countless forums and conferences around the world, published hundreds of white papers, issued thousands of Orders and authored two ground-breaking books on privacy – Who Knows: Safeguarding Your Privacy in a Networked World, in 1997, and The Privacy Payoff: How Successful Businesses Build Customer Trust, in 2002. She also received numerous awards as Commissioner, the latest being the 2014 Corporate Knights Award of Distinction, and sits on a number of boards and advisory councils.
In 2014, Dr. Cavoukian ended her tenure as Commissioner after two decades of a long road marked with many challenges and victories. She has left behind a legacy of excellence that has been earned through a lifetime of hard work. If anything, her efforts have always been to advance a noble cause – to continually strive for the pursuit of open, transparent government and the protection of our privacy – which lies at the very heart of our freedom and liberty.