What do you do?
I help organisations develop and implement new technology. Right now, that’s all about data. Some of my projects are about drafting and negotiating complex contracts between developers and users or consortia of developers. Others are about preparing for and responding to cybersecurity incidents, including, unfortunately, some of the most significant incidents in Canadian history. Complying with privacy laws and managing data-related risk play a role in almost every project.
When I applied to law school, my cover letter said I wanted to help resolve the legal issues that hinder our ability to use emerging technology. That started primarily as commercial technology work, but I have followed my clients and the emerging technologies to privacy, data and cybersecurity.
What’s keeping you busy?
My one-year-old daughter. I’m currently on parental leave. It’s afforded me time to step back and think conceptually about privacy, cybersecurity and data protection laws and new technologies. I’ll be excited to bring that new thinking back to my practice.
What mentors or other influential figures have helped you get where you are today?
When they roll my closing credits, the cast and crew list will be lengthy. My spouse, family, teachers, professors, peers, senior lawyers, junior lawyers, podcast hosts and people on Twitter and LinkedIn help me endlessly with advice, opportunities and feedback.
If you could change one data-related law, how and why would you change it?
I’d reshape the entire legal approach to cybersecurity. To sum up in a few words, we need a framework for a joint industry and government response to cybercrime. This might include incentives for information sharing, creating conditions where threat actors are starved of ransom payments, preventing fraud so data subjects are less likely to suffer harm and ensuring regulators have the expertise and resources to support good cybersecurity practices.
How has covid-19 affected what you do?
Work-wise, I have been very fortunate in that my work is the same, albeit from my garage instead of my office. On the personal side, there has been some bad with the good. Before I started my parental leave, I saw my daughter more than I would have. But we have seen much less of our extended family – grandparents missed out on seeing the first baby on both sides. I’m optimistic as I write because I get my first vaccine soon!
What’s the next big thing – what data opportunities are companies now looking at?
The next five years are going to be about better internet access: 5G in cities and high-speed internet delivered by satellite constellations in rural and remote areas. IOT will continue to grow rapidly, particularly when it comes to serving seniors and keeping them in their homes longer. Technologies that make remote work and learning better will be big. Long term, CRISPR and AI.
What’s keeping companies worried at the moment – what are some key data risks?
Cybersecurity threats. The biggest challenge is that we are not investing time in training and education and much of the training material that exists is kind of boring. It is the most interesting topic out there – a more mainstream version of Mr Robot (great show) or a great true crime podcast about cybersecurity could push a breakthrough. If anyone who is running content for a streaming service reads this, please call me.
What do you do to relax?
I’m notorious for starting hobbies and abandoning them before I get any good. Right now, that’s photography and playing the ukulele.