Ann Cavoukian, whose third term as Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner ends this July has accepted the post of executive director at Ryerson University’s new Institute of Privacy and Big Data.

“Having advised the Legislature that I would not be considering a fourth term as Commissioner (three is more than enough!), I am delighted to be able to pursue my passion for preserving privacy, well into the future, with such a progressive university as Ryerson,” said Cavoukian in a statement today. 

Cavoukian has been the province’s privacy czar for over 15 years. Her unprecedented third term will end on July 1. She has been a proponent of the principle of Privacy by Design and a very vocal in criticizing government departments as well as local and international technology companies for failing to protect people’s personal and sensitive data.

Cavoukian was among the many privacy advocates who in the wake of the Edward Snowden expose of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities, spoke against the massive collection of metadata by government agencies.

Ryerson is involved in a big data initiative (BDI) that focuses on developing new big data and analytics tools and services for various industries. The university’s other departments such as Ryerson’s Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, the Centre for Cloud and Context Aware Computing and Data Science Laboratory are part of this initiative.

The Institute of Privacy and Big Data will help ensure that privacy is considered at every stage of the process, said Mohamed Lachemi, vice president of academic at Ryerson.

The Institute of Privacy and Big Data is housed within the university’s Faculty of Science.

The institute’s main objectives include:

  • The promotion of development of technologies for analyzing big data within the context of privacy protection and to apply these technologies to various areas of big data
  • To provide an educational platform for the dissemination of techniques and procedures of privacy-enhanced by data analytics through research programs
  • To develop an incubation platform for start-up companies to use these technologies and help start-ups market these technologies as Privacy by Design applications


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