“Cavoukian, everything started with you”

Johan, everything started with you

There is a saying (more or less) popular among football fans in Spain: ”Johan, everything started with you”.

It refers to the genesis of “tiki-taka”, a virtuoso way of playing football popularized by FC Barcelona, which is marked by the arrival of the dutchman Johan Cruyff to the team, first as a player and -specially- later as a coach.

Cruyff’s imprint was engraved on Barça´s DNA, a team that mastered its style to reach “tiki-taka” and make history under the baton of beloved — and hated by his rivals — Pep Guardiola, Cruyff’s successor and confessed disciple.

The tiki-taka also managed to infect the Spanish national football team that made history between 2008 and 2012, winning two Eurocopes and a World Cup and becoming a world reference for its showy game.

In both cases, the eye-catching fact was not how many titles, but how they were won: Barça and Spain successed and amazed their audiences and rivals.

“Cavoukian, everything started with you”

I apologize in advance for the bold comparison. From my angle, Dr. Ann Cavoukian could be the Johan Cruyff of privacy.

Twenty years ago, Ann Cavoukian laid down Privacy by design´s fundamental principles.

Ann Cavoukian as a child quickly and first-hand learned about the importance of civil liberties and rights.

It is not appropriate here to consider the obvious implications of her armenian surname.

Restricting the story to the data she herself has made public, it is relevant to say that, when she was a child, her family decided to flee Egypt in 1958, the country where she was born, due to the political changes taking place by the time. Changes not predicting anything good for the rights of their citizens.

In Canada, Ann Cavoukian became interested in law and human rights, got specialized in criminology, and became the “top privacy cop”, the first Privacy Commissioner to be re-elected for a second term in Ontario.

Not only was she one of the pioneers in warning that privacy had to be as important a factor as security in the processing of personal information, but above all, she presented the world with “privacy by design” as an ideal tool to meet that need.

In other words, as only a great leader does: she pointed to the problem but did not stop there: she worked on the solution and put it at everyone’s disposal.

Since the early years of this century, she has been — and continues to be — a front-line privacy personality.

Her career has been characterized by contributing with advanced methods and knowledge to identify weaknesses in terms of privacy in new technologies and their practical applications.

Her personal brand is to insist on the need to develop technical alternatives that should both guarantee full respect for the privacy of citizens, and full functionality.

Privacy from design is today, a worldwide reference.

Twenty years after its birth, the standard of privacy from design and its multiple derivatives are present in technology projects all around the world.

On 25 May 2018, the new European General Data Protection Regulation will be enforced. That is the first order legislative instrument to standardize privacy by design and by default in golden letters -art. 25-.

Dr. Cavoukian’s work is, today, a worldwide reference for any professional in the field of personal data protection.

Her figure, an example for any professional pursuing to align career and ethical values.

Her legacy

I usually compare privacy by design and the seatbelt in our cars: both inventions are equally important, as they allow us to enjoy the undoubted benefits of technological advances without giving up security.

The invention of the three-axle seatbelt was so important that Volvo decided to release the patent so that all manufacturers could implement it for the benefit of their customers. Until that decision, it was common for a driver to end his days strung by his own steering wheel in the event of a collision.

Zero sum dilemmas: no, thanks

Dr. Cavoukian continues to denounce how the dizzying technological advances lack the implementation -from the design and by default- of standards to protect information security and privacy of the personal data of those concerned.

Privacy from design is a team sport.

Twenty years after its promulgation, these multidisciplinary teams, which are supporters of technological progress but respectful of privacy, are already formed and playing around.

We have to hope that during 2018 these teams will start making “tiki-taka”. To win and dazzle the world.

We european citizens and — very soon — those of the rest of the world, have a lot at stake in terms of privacy. Privacy is a game we cannot afford to lose.

Happy birthday and graccie mille

On October 7, Dr. Cavoukian turned 65.

I am afraid I am a bit late. Even so, I dare to wish her a very happy birthday.

And I do it modestly on behalf of all of us who work in data protection.

Thank you very much, Ms Cavoukian, everything started with you.

Spanish version in my blog here.

Jorge García Herrero

Lawyer and Data Protection Officer

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