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Canada’s Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner wants you remember this key message from her office’s presentation at the Privacy XChange Forum (pXf): The future of privacy will require a paradigm shift, a sea change.

And is one way to effect the necessary change to preserve privacy as one of our core rights.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the commissioner, and Michelle Chibba, the office’s director of policy and special projects, emphasized that privacy—the right of individuals to control the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information—equals freedom.

Privacy by Design supports those freedoms by helping companies build privacy into their products and services to promote trust, transparency and confidence with customers.

It also makes good business sense. The average cost of a data breach, in terms of notification per breached record, is roughly $200, Chibba said.

Businesses can protect themselves by taking action sooner rather than later. It’s possible to consider privacy in nearly every aspect of a business—even a building’s design. For example, Cavoukian visited a hospital where patient data—including names, types of surgeries and other health information—were displayed on signs outside the patients’ rooms for passersby to see. Moving that information inside the room, where health professionals, and not the public, may still have access, is a simple protection measure.

Four reasons why businesses should build privacy into their companies up front rather than after the fact:

  • It’s easier and far more cost-effective to build privacy up front.
  • View privacy as a business issue, not a compliance issue—think strategically and transform privacy into a sustainable competitive business advantage
  • Privacy is a long-term investment, central to retaining existing customers—and essential to attracting new ones.
  • Privacy risks are best managed by proactively embedding the principles of Privacy by Design.

It’s better to have Privacy by Design than privacy by disaster.

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