Privacy by Design

Rohan Pinto

The 7 Foundational Principles of Privacy by Design:

1. Proactive not Reactive; Preventative not Remedial

The Privacy by Design approach is characterized by proactive rather than reactive measures. It
anticipates and prevents privacy invasive events before they happen. PbD does not wait for privacy risks to materialize, nor does it offer remedies for resolving privacy infractions once they have occurred − it aims to prevent them from occurring. In short, Privacy by Design comes before-the-fact, not after.

Whether applied to information technologies, organizational practices, physical design, or networked
information ecosystems, PbD begins with an explicit recognition of the value and benefits of proactively adopting strong privacy practices, early and consistently (for example, preventing (internal) data breaches from happening in the first place).

2. Privacy as the Default

We can all be certain of one thing − the default rules! Privacy by Design seeks to deliver the maximum degree of privacy by ensuring that personal data are automatically protected in any given IT system or business practice. If an individual does nothing, their privacy still remains intact. No action is required on the part of the individual to protect their privacy − it is built into the system, by default.

3. Privacy Embedded into Design

Privacy by Design is embedded into the design and architecture of IT systems and business practices. It is not bolted on as an add-on, after the fact. The result is that privacy becomes an essential component of the core functionality being delivered. Privacy is integral to the system, without diminishing functionality.

Privacy must be embedded into technologies, operations, and information architectures in a holistic,
integrative and creative way. Holistic, because additional, broader contexts must always be considered. Integrative, because all stakeholders and interests should be consulted. Creative, because embedding privacy sometimes means re-inventing existing choices because the alternatives are unacceptable.

4. Full Functionality – Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum

Privacy by Design seeks to accommodate all legitimate interests and objectives in a positive-sum “winwin” manner, not through a dated, zero-sum approach, where unnecessary trade-offs are made. Privacy by Design avoids the pretense of false dichotomies, such as privacy vs. security, demonstrating that it is possible, and far more desirable, to have both.

Privacy by Design does not simply involve the making of declarations and commitments − it relates to satisfying all legitimate objectives − not only the privacy goals. Privacy by Design is doubly-enabling in nature, permitting full functionality − real, practical results and beneficial outcomes to be achieved for multiple parties.

5. End-to-End Security – Lifecycle Protection

Privacy by Design, having been embedded into the system prior to the first element of information being collected, extends securely throughout the entire lifecycle of the data involved — strong security measures are essential to privacy, from start to finish. This ensures that all data are securely retained, and then securely destroyed at the end of the process, in a timely fashion. Thus, Privacy by Design ensures cradle to grave, secure lifecycle management of information, end-to-end.

Privacy must be continuously protected across the entire domain and throughout the life-cycle of the data in question. There should be no gaps in either protection or accountability. The “Security” principle has special relevance here because, at its essence, without strong security, there can be no privacy.

6. Visibility and Transparency

Privacy by Design seeks to assure all stakeholders that whatever the business practice or technology
involved, it is in fact, operating according to the stated promises and objectives, subject to independent verification. Its component parts and operations remain visible and transparent, to both users and providers alike. Remember, trust but verify!

Visibility and transparency are essential to establishing accountability and trust.

7. Respect for User Privacy

Above all, Privacy by Design requires architects and operators to keep the interests of the individual
uppermost by offering such measures as strong privacy defaults, appropriate notice, and empowering user-friendly options. Keep it user-centric!

The best Privacy by Design results are usually those that are consciously designed around the interests and needs of individual users, who have the greatest vested interest in the management of their own personal data. Empowering data subjects to play an active role in the management of their own data may be the single most effective check against abuses and misuses of privacy and personal data.

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Meet the Author

Rohan Pinto

Co-founder of 1Kosmos

Rohan is the co-founder of 1Kosmos. He is a go-to security and identity management expert and the founder of several businesses that have made considerable advancements in blockchain and identity management.