I was working this week for a car manufacturer that has, like so many millions of companies, developed a new technology that involves the collection and use of personal information. They were smart about it and sought out privacy advice early in the development of the technology. The net result is that they are going to ensure that the collection of personal information rests only with the owner of the car, with the information never transferred, in any way imaginable, to the car company, itself. If car owners use this new technology, they will be the controllers — in every sense of the word. And, functionally, it'll be really cool.
Being involved in this project made me think about privacy by design. It’s been a few years now since Ann Cavoukian, then commissioner of Ontario, wrote a book and talked at conferences about this concept and spoke to its virtues. Clearly there are lots of lessons still to learn from the ideas and concepts she was articulating way back when. It makes me wonder: Is it time for someone new (or maybe even Ann) to get back on the PbD bandwagon and further evangelize the message? I think we may need it. For those of us who have been playing the privacy game for some time, we might think that it’s had its time in the limelight and that we've already heard that tune. But, let’s remember that there are still way more new privacy professionals than seasoned old-timers. Is everyone out there up to speed on the more fundamental ideas from the not so distant past? How do we keep our old ideas fresh when everything is about the newest and shiniest idea (oh, have you heard of data ethics … it’s what the cool kids are talking about these days ya know.)
Let’s at least start by taking the time to read the news to be current. Now, if I could only find a good PbD story to prove my point! Oh yeah, and if you want to make a big difference on the national scene, don't forget to check out this job posting: Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada. It closes soon and it ain't a bad gig!
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