Ann Cavoukian

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Ann Cavoukian
Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.jpeg
Cavoukian in 2013
3rd Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
In office
Preceded byTom Wright
Succeeded byBrian Beamish
Personal details
BornOctober 7, 1952
Cairo, Egypt
ResidenceToronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materYork University
University of Toronto

Ann Cavoukian (born October 7, 1952) is the former Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Canadian province of Ontario, serving from 1997 to 2014. Both before and during her tenure as commissioner she expanded on her concept of privacy by design, which takes privacy into account throughout the system engineering process, as part of a joint Canadian-Dutch team.[1]

After the end of her three terms as IPC, she was hired by Ryerson University as a distinguished visiting professor and appointed Executive Director of the university's Privacy and Big Data Institute in 2014.[2] Since 2017, Cavoukian has been the Distinguished Expert-in-Residence of the university's Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Cavoukian was born in Cairo, Egypt[4] in 1952 [5] to ethnic Armenian parents Artin and Lucie Cavoukian,[6] and immigrated to Toronto with her family in 1958. She is the sister of the well-known Canadian children's entertainer Raffi and Onnig Cavoukian (commonly called "Cavouk"), a well-known photographer.[4]

She took a B.A. at York University in Toronto and then received an MA and Ph.D in psychology from the University of Toronto, specializing in criminology and law.[7]

In the 1980s, she headed the Research Services Branch for the provincial Attorney General.[8] Joining the Ontario provincial Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in 1987, Cavoukian served as its first Director of Compliance followed by her appointment as Assistant Commissioner in 1990.[8]

Tenure as Privacy Commissioner[edit]

She was initially appointed Commissioner in 1997, and is the first Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to have been re-appointed for a third term.[citation needed] Serving as an officer of the provincial legislature, the Commissioner is independent of the government of the day.

Privacy by Design[edit]

Cavoukian created the concept of Privacy by Design.[9] In 2010 the annual assembly of International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution recognizing privacy by design as an essential component of fundamental privacy protection and it is a core part of the European Union GDPR regulations.

Toronto Transit Commission surveillance cameras[edit]

In November 2007, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) announced plans to expand its video surveillance program which resulted in a formal complaint to Commissioner Cavoukian from Privacy International, a U.K.-based organization, citing concerns that the TTC's proposed expansion was a violation of privacy laws. In response to this complaint, Cavoukian launched an investigation where she ruled that the TTC's expansion of its video surveillance system did not contravene any applicable privacy laws. As part of her investigation, she made 13 recommendations to the TTC, which have all been implemented, and she also encouraged the TTC to conduct a pilot project to test the use of a privacy-enhancing video surveillance technology, developed by researchers at the University of Toronto.[10]

Adoption disclosure[edit]

On March 29, 2005, Commissioner Cavoukian spoke out against the adoption disclosure Bill 183, Adoption Information Disclosure Act, stating that the proposed law needed an amendment giving birth parents and adoptees from adoptions that occurred prior to the passing of this retroactive law the right, if desired, to file a disclosure veto to prevent the opening of their sealed files.[citation needed]

The Adoption Information Disclosure Act received Royal Assent on November 3, 2005, without Commissioner Cavoukian's proposed disclosure veto.

On September 19, 2007, Justice Belobaba, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled the Adoption Information Disclosure Act as unconstitutional – it breached section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and thus, the sections of the Act relating to access to birth registration information are invalid.[citation needed]

On November 14, 2007, the government of Ontario introduced new adoption legislation that includes both a disclosure veto for adoptees and birth parents in adoptions that have already taken place and also promotes openness for adoptions where a disclosure veto is not registered and for all future adoptions.[citation needed] The Access to Adoption Records Act includes both a disclosure veto for adoptees and birth parents in adoptions that have already taken place.

Personal Health Information Protection Act[edit]

On November 1, 2004, Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) took effect granting the province of Ontario its first health information privacy legislation where it will govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information. Cavoukian had been an advocate of this legislation since the IPC was first formed in 1987.[citation needed]

The IPC is the oversight agency for the new law. As of November 1, 2004 patients who are denied access to their own personal health records, or who believe that their personal health information was collected, used or disclosed contrary to the new legislation, can complain to the IPC.

During her tenure, Cavoukian issued eleven Health Orders under PHIPA.


Cavoukian published two books on privacy with co-authors:

  • Tyler Hamilton: The Privacy Payoff: How Successful Businesses Build Customer Trust, 2002.
  • Don Tapscott: Who Knows: Safeguarding Your Privacy in a Networked World, 1997.


  • 2014 – Top 50 Power List (Maclean's Magazine) [11]
  • 2014 – Power 50 (Canadian Business Magazine) [12]
  • 2014 – Award of Distinction (Corporate Knights)
  • 2014 – KuppingerCole Lifetime Achievement Award (European Identity & Cloud Conference)
  • 2011 – Top 25 Women of Influence (Women of Influence Inc.)
  • 2011 – Information Access and Protection of Privacy Award (University of Alberta)
  • 2011 – Privacy Professional of the Year (SC Congress)
  • 2011 – Kristian Beckman Award (IFIP)
  • 2008 – Privacy Hero and Leadership Award (WiredSafety)
  • 2007 – Top 100 most powerful women in Canada (Women's Executive Network)
  • 2007 – Dr. Barbara Wand Award (Ontario Psychological Association)
  • 2006 – Outstanding contribution to the protection of privacy rights in Ontario (Ontario Bar Association)
  • 2006 – IABC All-Star speaker (International Association of Business Communicators)
  • 2005 – Privacy Innovation Award (International Association of Privacy Professionals)
  • 2003 – Privacy Manager of the Year (Privacy Manager Magazine)

Memberships and affiliations[edit]

  • Chair, IPSI Advisory Board
  • International Biometric Advisory Council
  • IBM Privacy Management Council
  • Judge, FairWarning Privacy Excellence Awards
  • European Association for Biometrics Advisory Board (EABAC)
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • RIM Council
  • Accuvant Advisory Board
  • Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Institute
  • Women of Influence


  1. ^ Cavoukian, Ann (2009). "Privacy by Design: The 7 Foundational Principles" (PDF). Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  2. ^ "Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner appointed executive director of Institute for Privacy and Big Data". Ryerson Today. Ryerson University. March 21, 2014. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  3. ^ "Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Distinguished Expert-in-Residence". Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence. Ryerson University. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bourret, Suzanne (January 15, 2008). "They see the jewel that is Hamilton". Hamilton Spectator. Archived from the original on 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  5. ^ "Items for Author "Cavoukian, Ann, 1952–"".
  6. ^ Bourret, Suzanne (January 22, 2008). "Cavouk of Winona: Life through the lens". Hamilton Spectator. Archived from the original on 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  7. ^ "About the Commissioner". Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
  8. ^ a b Former Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian – Ontario's longest serving Information and Privacy Commissioner, Privacy and Big Data Institute
  9. ^ Privacy by Design. "Privacy by Design (Ann Cavoukian)". Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
  10. ^ "Privacy and Video Surveillance in Mass Transit Systems: A Special Investigation Report" (PDF). Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06.
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]