About the Commissioner
Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.
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 that privacy is protected in Ontario – and around the world.
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 ground-breaking 1995 paper with the Netherlands, on advancing privacy protection through the pursuit of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), is now part of the industry lexicon. Dr. Cavoukian is perhaps best known for her mantra of “Privacy by Design.”
Whenever a privacy, security or access issue hits the news, Dr. Cavoukian is one of the first experts called in by the media to 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.
Dr. Cavoukian is Ontario's first Information and Privacy Commissioner to be re-appointed for an unprecedented third 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 has been extended to 2014. Like the Auditor General, she serves as an Officer of the Legislature, independent of the government of the day.
November 15, 2011 saw Dr. Cavoukian ranked by Women of Influence Inc. as one of the top 25 Women of Influence recognizing her contribution to the Canadian and global economy. This award follows her recognition in 2007 from the Women’s Executive Network as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.
In June 2011, Dr. Cavoukian was honoured with the prestigious Kristian Beckman Award for her pioneering work on Privacy by Design and privacy protection in modern international environments. In the same month, Dr. Cavoukian also received the SC Canada Privacy Professional of the Year Award and was honoured by the University of Alberta Information Access and Protection of Privacy Program for her positive contribution to the field of privacy. In 2011, Dr. Cavoukian was also named by Intelligent Utility Magazine as one of the Top 11 Movers and Shakers for the global Smart Grid industry.
In November, 2007, Dr. Cavoukian joined the ranks of "Canada's Most Powerful Women" by being awarded the prestigious Top 100 Award, in the Trailblazers and Trendsetters category. The honour of being named to the top 100 leading women in Canada highlights a number of other awards the Commissioner has received.
In February 2007, Dr. Cavoukian received the distinguished Dr. Barbara Wand Award from the Ontario Psychological Association, to acknowledge her outstanding work in the area of ethics and professional standards, pertaining to privacy and freedom of information.
Dr. Cavoukian has also been recognized as an outstanding speaker. Following a speech at the 2006 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) conference, Dr. Cavoukian once again received the designation of IABC All-Star speaker as a result of outstanding audience evaluations. Most notably, Dr. Cavoukian was invited to join the prestigious Women of Influence speaking series, appearing in major centres across Canada in 2006.
In November 2006, Dr. Cavoukian was honoured by the Ontario Bar Association for “her outstanding contributions to protecting privacy rights in Ontario, her inclusive leadership role in involving both the public and private sectors and her success in promoting understanding of and respect for access to information and privacy rights.”
In October 2005, Commissioner Cavoukian was presented with the Privacy Innovation Award at the largest-ever gathering of privacy professionals held by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Dr. Cavoukian and her Office were recognized for the development of ground-breaking Privacy Short Notices – a concise and easily understood notice informing individuals of how their personal information is being used. 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 2005, The European Biometrics Forum (EBF) announced the establishment of The International Biometric Advisory Council and named Dr. Ann Cavoukian as a member of the Council. Dr. Cavoukian, a world renowned 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.
In 2003, a leading privacy publication announced Dr. Cavoukian as The Privacy Manager of the Year. “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 the published author of two ground-breaking 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. Most recently, Dr. Cavoukian published an anthology of the collected works of her office commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, entitled “20/20: Access and Privacy Excellence … 20 Years in the Making.”
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 of 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.