Living By Design With Privacy By Design


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Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 4.03.27 PMAs technology merges with almost every aspect of our daily life, it’s important to consider: How can we live more mindful lives through the intelligent use of technology?

Living “by design” is the practice of taking intentional and deliberate actions so that we can lead a more purposeful life. A major part of living by design when it comes to technology involves embracing our privacy choices. When we do, we empower ourselves to use technology to benefit our lives rather than allowing technology to use us (or our data). Living by design includes cultivating privacy awareness and developing a privacy practice to make mindful choices when we share information online.

Let’s dig into what exactly Privacy by Design is…

Privacy by Design (PbD) is a concept that was developed by Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario Canada, to ensure that privacy becomes an organization’s “default mode of operation.” Under this framework, privacy is not an afterthought – it is purposefully incorporated into the development of products, services and operations. The objective of PbD for users like us means ensuring privacy and gaining control over information.

Begin to live by design and become a champion for privacy by familiarizing yourself with the PbD principles. You’ll not only be able to make conscious choices about the use of your information, but you’ll insist that companies with which you engage incorporate strong, intuitive privacy protections in their technologies and business practices.

The 7 foundational principles of PbD are:

  1. Proactive, not Reactive; Preventative, not Remedial. Privacy measures should anticipate and prevent events that could invade your privacy.
  2. Privacy as the Default. Personal data should be automatically protected as the default. Privacy protections are built into the technology with no additional user actions required.
  3. Privacy Embedded into Design. Privacy is an essential component of the functionality. Privacy is integral – not something that is added on after the fact.
  4. Full Functionality – Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum. Privacy, security, as well as business goals and objectives are all accommodated in a win-win manner with no unnecessary tradeoffs.
  5. End-to-End Security – Full Lifecycle Protection. PbD principles are embedded before user information is collected and extend throughout the entire lifecycle (including storage and deletion of data).
  6. Visibility and Transparency – Keep it Open. The business practice or technology operates according to its stated promises and objectives (i.e. in its privacy policy and settings)
  7. Respect for User Privacy – Keep it User Centric. User experience is paramount and product design incorporates user needs and limitations. User interests are protected when organizations offer strong privacy defaults, privacy notices and user-friendly privacy settings. Privacy issues and choices are presented in a way users understand.

3 ways to incorporate Privacy by Design into your life:

  1. Information Technology. Technology itself can allow us to protect our privacy and put us back in control. For example, online privacy companies offer tools for consumers to regulate what personal information companies, third parties, and other people see about them online. These privacy protective technologies block ad networks, social networks, and other data collection companies from tracking your online browsing behavior.
  2. Accountable Business Processes. Privacy can be good for business and provide a competitive advantage. Gravitate towards organizations you trust and engage with technology that provides a clear privacy policy and meaningful privacy choices.
  3. Physical Design. Physical assets and infrastructure should address privacy requirements. Be aware of your surroundings (for example, pharmacies and waiting rooms in hospitals) where you may be asked to share your personal information.

Seek out Privacy by Design ambassadors

PbD Ambassadors are organizations and individuals (including yours truly) committed to spreading the word of PbD and advancing the case for embedding privacy protective measures in technology, processes and physical design.


About the author


Alexandra Ross is the founder of The Privacy Guru ( and Senior Counsel at Paragon Legal. Previously, she managed privacy law and compliance as Associate General Counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, building the retail giant’s privacy policies and procedures from the ground up. She is a certified information privacy professional and practices in San Francisco, California. She holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law and a B.S. in theater from Northwestern University. As The Privacy Guru, Alexandra champions privacy awareness and encourages users to develop a privacy practice so that they can make more mindful choices when they share online. An accomplished writer and engaging speaker, Alexandra brings a unique perspective to the privacy field with fun and accessible presentations, thought-provoking content, and one-on-one consulting services.

You can follow her on Twitter @sharemindfully.

One Reply to “Living By Design With Privacy By Design”

  1. rob wilkins says:

    Concur absolutely with the article. So many users of the Internet though really have no idea that they are at risk. Or do not care. To educate is a huge task.

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