Excerpted from In-Person Interview, Toronto, Canada
What are the ramifications of a data breach?
There are data breaches on a daily basis, and the costs to the companies are far greater than any benefits they’re making in gaining and using the data as they want. Target, for example, three/four years ago, huge massive data breach, and the CEO of Target resigned in the United States. The president of Target Canada was fired, and there’s no more Target in Canada—it was completely obliterated. So, the damage to your brand, the damage to your reputation, may be irreparable.
Why should organizations care about privacy?
When I first go in, I get this real negative response; they think privacy’s going to stifle business and prosperity. So, I say: “give me twenty minutes, please.” By the end of twenty minutes, I can show how they can gain from it. That not only will privacy massively increase trust and build their reputation (and give them a competitive advantage), but it will yield returns they never even thought of. When they see the competitive advantage, the trust that is lacking, they’re all in immediately.
How can you build privacy in from the outset?
When I talk to other tech people, I give this message out a lot. I say, “You gotta build and embed privacy into the design of your operations, bake it into your code.” And they say, “We can do that, that’s no problem. Go talk to them.” “Them” are all the people who are giving them programs to write without saying “build in privacy.” They write the program, they deliver it, and then someone says, “Oh, can you bolt on a privacy provision?” And they say, “give me a break,” you know? You try to do something, it’s never going to be as good as if it was seamlessly integrated in the program from the onset. So, I always take that message back to the board and the CEO, and I say, “look, you’ve got to talk to these guys all at the front end. You can build a far superior product if you bake everything into the program, into the code upfront. Then, you’ll have multiple gains across the board.” It’s such an easy sell, but they haven’t heard this before. It truly becomes a win-win, and that’s what I want.
What should every organization know about privacy?
I want companies to know this is in their best interest. I want government officials, auditors, privacy officers, everyone, to know that this is in their best interest. Because the last thing you want is a data breach, and then everyone is going crazy. They’re going against the government, against companies, and they’re no longer lawsuits, they’re class-action lawsuits. It costs millions upon millions and now with the fines associated with this new law in the EU, it’s 4% of global revenues they can fine you. Think of 4% of Google or Facebook—you’re talking billions. It’s huge.
Privacy, to me, forms the foundation of our freedom. You cannot have free and open societies without privacy —it’s impossible. It’s no accident that Germany is the leading privacy and data protection country in the world. They had to endure the abuses of the Third Reich and the complete cessation of all their privacy and their freedom. When that ended, they said “never again will we allow the state to strip us of our freedom, and our privacy.” That’s where it starts.
Dr. Cavoukian is one of the world’s leading privacy and security experts and is the author of two books: The Privacy Payoff: How Successful Businesses Build Customer Trust with Tyler Hamilton and Who Knows: Safeguarding Your Privacy in a Networked World with Don Tapscott. Her keynotes focus on why privacy is both essential to freedom and crucial to strong business practices. She shares the principles behind her groundbreaking Privacy by Design framework with organizations around the world, and prepares companies to address what’s become one of the biggest issues of our time.
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“Privacy knows no borders. We have to protect privacy globally or we protect it nowhere!”— Dr. Ann Cavoukian