Access by Design and Privacy by Design

Policy Purpose

The Hamilton Public Library endorses the principles of Access by Design (AbD) and Privacy by Design (PbD) as developed by the Ontario Privacy Commissioner.

As library systems, programs and policies are reviewed or developed, the principles outlined in AbD and PbD will be incorporated into the planning process.


Access the right or opportunity to use or look at something.

Privacy is a person’s right to keep their personal matters and relationships secret.

Proactive taking action by causing change and not only reacting to change when it happens.

Reactive taking action after a request is made or after a change happens.

Security the method, tools, and personnel used to protect computer systems and information systems from harm.

Policy Details

Privacy by Design (PbD) - The 7 Fundamental Principles

  1. Proactive not Reactive; Preventative not Remedial
    The Privacy by Design (PbD) 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 or 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.
  2. Privacy as the Default Setting
    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.
  4. Full Functionality - Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum
    Privacy by Design seeks to accommodate all legitimate interests and objectives in a positive-sum “win-win” 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 to have both.
  5. End-to-End Security - Full 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.
  6. Visibility and Transparency - Keep it Open
    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 users and providers alike. Remember, trust but verify.
  7. Respect for User Privacy - Keep it User-Centric
    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.

Access by Design (AbD) - The 7 Fundamental Principles

  1. Proactive, not Reactive
    Many public institutions are still reactive and wait until a request for information is received before deciding to release it; this can be a slow, cumbersome process, easily used as a mechanism to deny access to information. With Access by Design, government institutions can take a proactive approach to promote full transparency, while at the same time, achieving cost-savings by eliminating a costly and cumbersome disclosure process.
  2. Access Embedded into Design
    When access is embedded into the design of public programs from the outset, it delivers the maximum degree of access to government-held information by making proactive disclosure the default. The benefits are twofold: the public can access information more directly; and government institutions can save significant resources by making their information available on a routine basis – by default.
  3. Openness and Transparency = Accountability
    A transparent and open government is vital for a free and democratic society. The essential purpose of access to information legislation is to support the democratic process by ensuring that citizens have the information required to hold their governments accountable – which is not possible if government activities and documents are hidden from public view. When government proactively provides routine access to government-held information, it creates a “culture of accountability.”
  4. Fosters Collaboration
    The Internet has given impetus to a new phenomenon where more and more community groups are coming together online with the power to engage government policy makers directly. Government institutions need to embrace this new culture by making data readily available to these groups as part of the social contract to serve their citizens. Further, there are new opportunities for the private sector to work collaboratively with government in utilizing public data, with many potential benefits for the economy as a whole.
  5. Enhances Efficient Government
    The demand for government services continually increases, while governments constantly face the need for cost reduction measures. By embracing Access by Design, public institutions can improve their information management practices by eliminating the inefficient process of “reactive” disclosure, and yet provide more streamlined access to public information. Further, citizen groups can also utilize public data to spot inefficiencies in, and improvements for, government services – increasing efficiency by reducing demand on government resources.
  6. Makes Access Truly Accessible
    Simply releasing more data is not enough. Access by Design also requires that public information be easily found, indexed and presented in user-friendly formats. There is little value in proactively disclosing public information if it is quietly placed online in obscure locations, using uncommon software which cannot be widely utilized. In addition, public institutions need to ensure that their IT systems are up-to-date and can meet increased public demand by extracting information quickly, in a cost-effective manner.
  7. Increases Quality of Information
    Information has been called the lifeblood of the 21st century economy. This is no less true when it comes to meaningful citizen participation in public life. Not only is it essential for government institutions to place public data on public databases, they must also ensure that the information is accurate, reliable and up to date. Quality control and assurance protocols are vital to ensure that public participation in the democratic process remains relevant and meaningful.

Publish Date

November 2021