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Faculty of Science

privacy and big data institute

De-identification Symposium:
Preserving Privacy AND Advancing
Data Analytics

In this growing world of “Big Data,” data analytics is all the rage. Data aggregation and data linkage is becoming far more common today, not only for commercial purposes but especially for research and public health analysis. In this climate of Big Data, ever-increasing amounts of personal information are being gathered, stored and analyzed, with privacy becoming a growing concern for both the individuals who serve as the data-subjects, and the organizations collecting and analyzing their personal data. Much has been written about the demise of privacy and data protection. But such pieces often come loaded with unrealistic expectations and the pursuit of impossible zero-risk solutions. Far better to pursue real-world solutions through Privacy by Design – delivering the win/win, positive-sum framework of privacy AND data analytics. Strong de-identification protocols provide a leading way in which to address privacy concerns and legal obligations while simultaneously preserving the utility of the data for analysis. But let us be clear – not all de-identification methods are equal – far from it! This symposium will focus on the most effective methods of preserving privacy while also facilitating vitally-important data analytics in the current culture of Big Data. Our symposium will feature expert speakers from the fields of privacy, data aggregation, de-identification, cryptography and data analytics.

Event Details

Date: October 21, 2014

Registration opens at 9:30 am.

Conference to take place from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

This symposium would be of interest to professionals who are collecting, working with and/or disclosing personal information for data analytics purposes.

Please visit our RSVP page to register

Scheduled Speakers

Ann Cavoukian

Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the world’s leading privacy experts. Appointed as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada in 1997, Dr. Cavoukian served for an unprecedented three terms as Commissioner. In that time, she elevated the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner from a novice regulatory body to a first-class agency, known around the world for its cutting edge innovation and leadership. Her Privacy by Design framework seeks to proactively embed privacy into the design specifications of information technologies, networked infrastructure, and business practices, thereby achieving the strongest protection possible. In October 2010, regulators at the conference of International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners unanimously passed a Resolution recognizing Privacy by Design as an essential component of fundamental privacy protection. This was followed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s inclusion of Privacy by Design as one of three recommended practices for protecting online privacy – a major validation of its significance.

In November 2011, Dr. Cavoukian was ranked as one of the top 25 Women of Influence, recognizing her contribution to the Canadian and global economy. In October 2013, she was named one of the top 100 City Innovators Worldwide by UBM Future Cities for her passionate advocacy of Privacy by Design. In December 2013, the Founding Partners of the Respect Network, the world’s first peer-to-peer network for personal and business clouds, named Dr. Cavoukian as its first Honorary Architect. In August 2014, Dr. Cavoukian was chosen as one of the "Power 50" in Canadian Business magazine for her efforts as a privacy champion.

As of July 1, 2014, she began a new position at Ryerson University as the Executive Director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute – Where Big Data meets Big Privacy.

Khaled El Emam

Dr. El Emam is a senior scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute and Director of the multi-disciplinary Electronic Health Information Laboratory (EHIL) team, conducting academic research on de-identification and re-identification risk. Khaled holds the Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information at the University of Ottawa and is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine. He was also one of the first Privacy by Design Ambassadors recognized by the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Dr. El Emam is the founder and CEO of Privacy Analytics Inc. As an entrepreneur, he has helped found five companies involved with data management and data analytics. He has worked in technical and management positions in academic and business settings in England, Scotland and Japan.

In 2003 and 2004, Dr. El Emam was ranked as the top systems and software engineering scholar worldwide by the Journal of Systems and Software based on his research on measurement and quality evaluation and improvement.

Previously, Dr. El Emam was a Senior Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada. He also served as the head of the Quantitative Methods Group at the Fraunhofer Institute in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has a PhD from the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, King’s College, at the University of London, England.

Bradley Malin

Dr. Malin is Vice Chair for Research and Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and an Associate Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University. He is the founder and director of the Vanderbilt Health Information Privacy Laboratory (HIPLab), which focuses on basic and applied research in a number of health-related areas, including primary care and secondary sharing of patient-specific clinical and genomic data. His research has received several awards of distinction from the American and International Medical Informatics Associations. Dr. Malin directed a data privacy research and consultation team for the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) project, a consortium sponsored by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute. He has served as a program committee member and workshop chair for numerous research conferences and has edited several volumes for Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, a special issue for

the journal Data and Knowledge Engineering, and is currently on the editorial board of the journal Transactions on Data Privacy. Dr. Malin received a Bachelor’s in biology (2000), Master’s in knowledge discovery and data mining (2002), Master’s in public policy & management (2003), and a Doctorate in computation, organizations & society (2006) from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.


Neil Corner

Mr. Corner is the Real World Evidence Lead, Canada, IMS Brogan. He leads innovations at IMS Brogan and leads the delivery of outcomes data from Electronic Medical Records. His focus is on supporting federal and provisional government, academics and the pharmaceutical industry in understanding and delivering health outcomes data. He is working on delivering outcomes from mHealth, integrated patient data and more recently using EMR to create interactive electronic patient registries.

Mr. Corner has a total of 27 years pharmaceutical industry experience in UK, US, EMEA and Canada. He has papers published in the areas of EMR data validation, Real World Evidence in the Canadian market and Customer Relationship Management. Designing and building integrated health data ecosystems to create outcomes in the world of big data is the focus of his research and development within IMS Brogan in Canada.

Mr. Corner joined IMS in 2007 as Operations Director for IMS EMEA, and then as franchise lead for patient data and medical data across 22 countries, leaving to relocate to Montreal in October 2009. Previous to his current position in Canada, he managed Specialty offerings and government solutions at both the provincial and federal level.

Aleksander Essex

Dr. Essex is an assistant professor of software engineering at Western University focusing on topics in cyber security, applied cryptography and health privacy. During his postdoctoral fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute he designed secure protocols for applications in privacy preserving medical informatics. His graduate work focused on trustworthy electronic voting and was part of an international research group that ran the first cryptographically-verifiable public election in the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo. 

Ann Sprague

Dr. Sprague is the Acting Director of BORN,  Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry and Network established in 2009 to collect, interpret, share and rigorously protect critical data about pregnancy, birth and childhood in the province. She has long been involved in maternal child care initiatives at the regional, national and international levels. She was instrumental in the development of fetal surveillance education and guidelines in Canada, and has an excellent track record with grant applications, publications, project and team leadership, and mentoring of students. In recent years, Dr. Sprague has published in the clinical areas of bed rest in pregnancy, fetal surveillance, second stage of labour, fetal fibronectin and H1N1 in pregnancy. She leads the BORN data analysis and research team currently developing and evaluating key performance indicators for maternal child care in Ontario. Dr. Sprague also has a keen interest in privacy related to health databases and the protection of personal health information. She earned her nursing degree at the University of New Brunswick, her masters of education at the University of Ottawa, and her doctorate in nursing at the University of Alberta. She has academic appointments at the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University in Kingston.

Christin McMeley

Partner & Chair, Privacy & Security Practice / Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Christin McMeley, CIPP, advises companies in various industries in privacy compliance, information governance, information security, public policy, and regulatory matters. Christin advocates on behalf of clients before governmental agencies, legislative members and staff. She also represents telecom, cable, and wireless providers in regulatory proceedings before the FCC and counsels clients on regulatory policy and compliance. Christin is the Chair of DWT's Privacy and Security practice.

As a former vice president, chief privacy officer, and deputy general counsel to Charter Communications, she designed and led the implementation of the company's first comprehensive privacy and information security program. Christin has extensive knowledge of federal and state privacy and security regulations, as well as hands-on experience with all aspects of privacy and information governance programs, including public policy and strategy, corporate policy development, employee training, program management and compliance assessments.


portrait of Ann Cavoukian

Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director
Privacy and Big Data Institute