Harry A. Valetk, CIPP

More than 150 privacy professionals gathered in New York City June 27-28 for the IAPP's first-ever 2-day Practical Privacy Series. The series covered cutting-edge topics on security breach notice, risk mitigation and crisis management. The conference also included sessions on Financial and Health industry concerns. 

Among the speakers were Carol A. DiBattiste, CIPP, ChoicePoint's General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, Milo Cividanes, Partner at Venable LLP, and Charlie Miller, CIPP, Director, Merrill Lynch. The series offered well-timed presentations on key topics, invaluable networking and countless practical insights.

The event launched with an impressive panel of speakers discussing the practical challenges all companies face when dealing with security breaches. 

A Little Breach Is a Good Thing

Lisa J. Sotto, Partner, Hunton & Williams LLP, an expert on security breach laws, described the benefits of a "little breach." Despite all we know about the business impact of security breaches today, actual breaches continue to serve as the most powerful wake-up call for organizations about the quantifiable implications of losing customer data. One expert pointed out how, so far, TJX's security breach has cost the company $20 million in reportable expenses.

While most companies have some security measures in place, keeping them up-to-date can be a tug-of-war during budget season. For example, in a 2005 Ponemon Institute study, 100 percent of large companies surveyed had a privacy policy for customer data, but only 38 percent believed that existing resources were enough to manage regulatory and corporate privacy requirements.

Even today, several speakers pointed out the challenges privacy officers face when seeking to adequately fund, audit and modernize their privacy programs. Yesterday's program is ill-suited in today's marketplace. And so, in this context, Sotto observed how a little breach at your organization could go a long way in creating adequate business incentives for improvement.

Turning an FTC Consent Order Into an Opportunity
If all else fails, and your company ends up with a long-term relationship with a regulator, DiBattiste urged privacy pros to use it as an opportunity. In her visible leadership role, she actually turned her company's consent order with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into a "magic wand." Whenever senior executives forgot why annual policy reviews and updating technologies were so important, the 20-year consent order abruptly ended any resistance. And thanks to its FTC consent order, ChoicePoint currently has one of the most sophisticated data protection programs serving as a model for others.

Even If no Law Is in Place, You May Still Need to Notify
During his presentation, Cividanes also pointed out a number of legislative nuances that can otherwise be easy to overlook. For example, he noted that although 38 states currently have security breach notice laws, your duty to notify may not end there. As security breach lawsuits continue to gain momentum around the country, and depending on the size of the breach, class action litigation may follow. In this context, he pointed out that you may have a duty to mitigate damages to the affected class by disclosing the data loss, and giving victims an opportunity to guard against identity fraud.

He also noted how draft regulations on implementing New Jersey's security breach notice law may go far beyond any existing standards. From start to finish, the proposed regulations may require companies to notify customers within 30 hours of discovering a breach. 

Other valuable insights included:

1. Have a plan, find the plan, follow the plan.
    • Do you have a formal breach crisis response plan?
    • Do all the right players know your plan?
    • Does everyone know where to find it?
    • Schedule drill scenarios to make sure everyone follows the plan.

2. Benchmarking. What are your competitors doing? "Reasonableness" is often measured against industry standards and widely available technologies.

3. Be proactive. Reach out to local law enforcement and appropriate regulators. Know who they are, and keep them informed early in the process.

4. Watch out for paper. State attorneys general, especially in Texas, are paying close attention to mishandled paper containing sensitive customer data.

5. Think globally. Build your privacy plans in a way that's easily adaptable to our global marketplace.

More Than Just Compliance
This event, however, was not just about compliance with existing laws. Throughout the conference, speakers reiterated that privacy has a real return on investment. Indeed, effective privacy professionals must master the marketplace's trust analysis. And, as noted throughout the conference, violating that trust can have a permanent impact on an existing market practice (i.e., telemarketing virtually ended with enactment of the Do-Not-Call Registry).

So, in this role, privacy professionals are not mere gatekeepers; they're enablers. They help their organizations understand the business value of being good stewards of data, and using it in sensible and responsible ways.

Harry A. Valetk is a new media and privacy attorney in New York City. He is currently responsible for U.S. Privacy at MetLife. He also is an adjunct assistant professor at the Bernard M. Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, and a former trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. Any opinions expressed in this article belong to the author, and are not necessarily those of MetLife. He may be reached at


This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Advertise in IAPP Publications

Find out how to get your message in front the people you want to reach. Download a media kit now.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Registration Open

New! Intensive two-day GDPR training led by the sharpest minds in the field. It's a can't-miss event.

The Congress Is Cancelled

The IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress 2015 is cancelled. Click through to learn more.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»