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Ontario Privacy Commissioner sets her sights on Big Data


March 20, 2014  


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RyersonUniversity has announced the appointment of Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, as the executive director of the school’s Institute for Privacy and Big Data.

Dr. Cavoukian’s appointment will take effect at the conclusion of her third term as Commissioner, on July 1.

Big Data — the acquisition, storage, processing, analysis and use of large data sets — has the potential to enable innovations and facilitate critical social interests with impacts felt at every level, from invaluable discoveries in health research, to mapping of human behaviour in the digital world, to management of natural resources, a release from Ryerson stated.

The appointment ties into the university’s Big Data Initiative (BDI), which focuses on developing new tools and applying those tools to advance organizational performance across sectors. BDI brings together existing centres that collaborate with industry partners to drive the development of new Big Data based products and services including Ryerson’s Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, Ryerson’s Centre for Cloud and Context Aware Computing, and the Data Science Laboratory. The new Institute for Privacy and Big Data will help ensure privacy is considered at every stage of the process, the school said.

“The Institute for Privacy and Big Data will bring together experts from both within the university and beyond, to develop new ways to protect and promote people’s privacy in the digital age,” said Mohamed Lachemi, provost and vice president academic.  

The Institute’s primary objectives include:

* Promoting the development of technologies that analyze data within an appropriate context and privacy-protective sphere, and applying those technologies in a positive-sum manner to the various sectors of Big Data in order to improve upon the value and utility of the associated analytics, all while strongly protecting the privacy of data-subjects.

* Providing an educational platform to disseminate the techniques and procedures of privacy enhanced Big Data analytics through research programs.

* Providing an incubation platform for start-up companies to utilize these technologies for new markets and applications, uniquely positioning them as Privacy by Design applications, delivering both privacy and Big Data analytics.


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