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Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner


Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Dr. Ann Cavoukian has risen to the top of her field.  Frequently called to speak at major forums around the globe, Dr. Cavoukian is recognized as one of the leading privacy experts in the world.  A published author on ground breaking privacy issues, a brain tumor survivor and advocate of spreading one’s influence, Dr. Cavoukian shares her passion and how that’s enabled her to defy the odds in her career and life.

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Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the leading privacy experts in the world. An avowed believer in the role that technology can play in protecting privacy, Dr. Cavoukian’s leadership has seen her office develop a number of tools and procedures to ensure privacy is protected in Ontario – and around the globe.

Dr. Cavoukian is Ontario’s first Information and Privacy Commissioner to be re-appointed for a second term. Initially appointed in 1997, her role in overseeing the operations of the freedom of information and privacy laws in Canada’s most populous province was extended to 2009. Like the provincial auditor, she serves as an officer of the legislature, independent of the government of the day.

Businesses across North America and Europe regularly seek Dr. Cavoukian’s advice and guidance on privacy and data protection issues. She has been involved in a number of international committees focused on privacy, technology and business. Her groundbreaking 1995 paper with the Netherlands Data Protection Authority on advancing privacy protection through the pursuit of privacy-enhancing technologies or PETs is now part of the industry lexicon.

Whenever a privacy, security or access issue hits the news, Dr. Cavoukian is one of the first experts called in by the media to try and make sense of it. She often serves the role of “translator” – breaking down complex issues into understandable terms and concepts. She is also frequently called upon to speak at leading international forums.

In October 2005, Commissioner Cavoukian was presented with the “Privacy Innovation Award” at the largest-ever gathering of privacy professionals — the conference held by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Dr. Cavoukian and the IPC were recognized for the development of the ground breaking Privacy Short Notices – a concise and easily understood Notice informing individuals of how their personal information is being used under PHIPA. Commissioner Cavoukian was honoured to accept the award stating that, “To have my office recognized for its innovative work in this field is truly gratifying. I have always believed that a practical approach advances privacy the most. Creating privacy notices that are short and easily understood maximizes our effectiveness in reaching the public.”

Further, in November 2005, The European Biometrics Forum (EBF) announced the establishment of The International Biometric Advisory Council (IBAC) and named Dr. Ann Cavoukian as a member of the Council. Dr. Cavoukian, a world reknowned expert on privacy, will provide advice and expert opinion to the EBF, its members and partners, on the most pertinent issues facing biometrics around the world today.

A leading privacy publication recently announced that it had selected Dr. Cavoukian as The Privacy Manager of the Year for 2003. “Many privacy leaders from around the world were nominated as The Privacy Manager of the Year,” said Publisher Robert Vinet, when making the announcement. “But the one name that kept coming up was that of Dr. Cavoukian … We looked at all the nominees, and the one person who was head and shoulders above the rest was Dr. Cavoukian.”

Dr. Cavoukian is also the published author of two groundbreaking books on privacy – Who Knows: Safeguarding Your Privacy in a Networked World (1997), written with Don Tapscott, and The Privacy Payoff: How Successful Businesses Build Customer Trust (2002), written with Tyler Hamilton. The books look at the personal and financial risks that arise in the absence of safeguarding personal and customer data. Dr. Cavoukian is a pioneer in advancing the bottom-line business need for companies, large and small, to have strong privacy practices.

Dr. Cavoukian joined the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in 1987, during its start-up phase, as its first Director of Compliance. In 1990, she was appointed Assistant Commissioner. Prior to joining the IPC, Dr. Cavoukian headed the Research Services Branch for the provincial Attorney General. Dr. Cavoukian received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, where she specialized in criminology and law, and lectured on psychology and the criminal justice system.