September 27, 2018
Address by Sharon Polsky MAPP
President, Privacy and Access Council of Canada
Welcome, everybody, to the Smart Technology Privacy Summit. I am honored to host this Summit, that is one of a series of Sunshine Summits hosted by the Privacy and Access Council of Canada in celebration of International Right to Know Day.
I think we are all looking forward to a full day of engaging discussion and practical guidance about access and privacy — which, after many years, is finally a sexy topic. A hot topic in the news daily — but not always for the right reasons.
It is a matter of perspective. And, depending on your position, your results may vary.
After decades as a privacy consultant and a Privacy by Design Ambassador, it is a relief to see that privacy finally matters. To me, for sure. To all of you. You are here! And to the many people who are on a waiting list for the next event!
Privacy matters now more than ever. But privacy is not a matter of secrecy: It is a matter of having control of what information about you is shared, with whom, why, and when. Until now we have had precious little control over that. And the lax laws that were created in the last century, when fax machines were all the rage, are of dubious worth nowadays.
Blockchain technology offers some control, but its effectiveness also causes its own set of problems when it comes to deleting information or granting access to information.
And access is the flip side of privacy. That, too, is not — or should not be — a matter of secrecy. It is a matter of being able to get hold of the information that a company or government or public body has — about you. About how it spends your tax dollars. About its plans for your future — a future that is already here, full of smart technology embedded in our homes, our offices, our cars, our health care systems and medical devices — and turning everyday devices into monitoring devices, with the data they collect and create ripe for analysis by artificial intelligence and complex proprietary algorithms that might be biased and entrench those biases.
In reality, though, privacy has not been built into most artificial intelligence systems or smart devices, so we have to ask a fundamental question: Are we outsmarting ourselves with smart technology?
The smart home hardware and service sector — that includes entertainment, automation, healthcare and connected devices — is set to grow from $83 billion last year to $195 billion by 2021.
Amazon is building a 12-person health and wellness team within its Alexa division to help make the assistant more useful to the health care sector. They are also improving Alexa’s emotional awareness so “she” can listen for the sound of frustration in a person’s voice.
It is also the same Amazon that worked with Merck, the drug maker, to offer a prize to developers building Alexa “skills” to help people with diabetes manage all aspects of their care.
Will patients even know or be able to find out who will be able to watch their sugar levels?
Our TVs watch us. Our fridges monitor how fresh our food is — and report it to….we are not sure.
Our online activity and our movements through the physical world are captured, monitored, and analyzed.
Our children are talking to virtual assistants as if they are part of the family, with no idea that their childish remarks are being stored and analyzed — and might come back to haunt them in a few years.
Our federal government is analying our social media accounts to understand who buys cannabis, and where. Our cars monitor our emotions, our biometrics, and our heart rates, and report where they go… to …we are not sure. Connect those dots and it is about to get interesting at the border!
In 2016, North America accounted for more than 40% of the global connected car revenue — a sector that is projected to grow to a whopping $45 Billion by 2023.
Our nation’s economy, our businesses, and our government services hinge on technology that works reliably and is worthy of our trust.
Secrecy diminishes trust and democracy, and the democratic freedoms we enjoy rely on having genuine privacy and well-functioning access to information.
Clearly there is a lot at stake. And lots to discuss today with some of the industry’s finest thought leaders.
Thank you, all, for so graciously agreeing to be part of this important discussion…. that can be controversial or contemplative.
It depends on your persective.