IAPP Privacy Academy 2007 Opens With a Look at Privacy's Past, Present and Future

IAPP Staff

It's hard to imagine managing information in a time before written language had even been invented, but New York Times information architect Alex Wright, author of the book Glut, opened the IAPP Privacy Academy 2007 with a keynote that took a packed plenary back a few millennia to describe the history of the struggle to manage information. Wright's journey went back to before the invention of alphabets, to the first recorded transactions on clay tablets, to the use of symbolic jewelry to communicate status and community, through the emergence of the U.S. as a "document nation" and the subsequent explosion of digital knowledge worldwide.

Wright characterized the ascension of online media, such as blogging and social networks, as the re-emergence of an oral tradition within our modern culture, suggesting that this is more a sign of how information use has fundamentally remained the same, even if the tools have evolved far beyond what the earliest Mesopotamian scribes could have imagined.

Wright's provocative keynote before a standing-room only audience in San Francisco's Westin St. Francis hotel was followed by a keynote presented by Scott Charney, Vice President of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group. Charney entertained the audience with anecdotes from his long career in information security, including time spent in the early days addressing cybercrime with the U.S. Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Stories of bumbling hackers inadvertently shutting down telephone networks and the nascent efforts of Eastern European computer criminals evoked laughter from the audience before turning serious with a reference to Sept. 11, 2001. Described by Charney as a watershed moment in the evolution of data security, the tragic events of 9/11 exposed the global economy's Achilles heel: a reliance on telecommunications networks protected by little more than hope. On that morning, Charney said, a craven act of terror targeting a symbol of Western economic might inflicted collateral damage on nearly $1 billion worth of nearby telecommunications equipment, temporarily crippling Wall Street's ability to conduct vital financial transactions and showing what might well happen as a result of a sophisticated, successful cyber attack.

Charney capped his keynote by announcing the results of Microsoft's latest security intelligence report, Microsoft Study on Data Protection and Role Collaboration Within Organizations, which revealed that marketers rarely consult with their organization's security and privacy functions regarding data use, even though the majority of security and privacy professionals believe they do. The result, he said, is that this lack of coordination between disciplines leads to data breaches.

In keeping with the plenary's theme of "Privacy: Past, Present and Future," Paul Saffo of Stanford University and the Institute for the Future, next took the stage to talk about privacy's future, and of uncertain times for the profession, saying, "The information revolution is over. This is a media revolution." According to Saffo, there is a shift from mass media to personal media, and the implications of that shift will have serious ramifications for the development and application of technology. In such an environment, Saffo argued, successful companies will be those that understand how to harness the actions of individuals, pointing to Google as an example of that model. Of course, for privacy professionals, the trick will be in balancing the interaction of the individual, along with the sharing of demographic data, with the need to protect personal privacy. The things privacy pros are doing today will shape the events of the next 40 years, he said.

Record Number of Privacy Pros Flock to San Francisco

More than 1,000 privacy professionals—the highest attendance ever for the Academy—gathered in San Francisco to listen to more than 110 speakers share the latest news and information with sessions focused on topics as wide-ranging as data privacy in Latin America to the role of the Works Councils in European privacy, and from surviving internal audits to transparency in RFID deployment.

IAPP Executive Director J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP, welcomed the crowd at the conference's opening plenary session in the Grand Ballroom, telling the gathering of privacy professionals that "we've arrived" as a profession and are now recognized as "guardians of trust in an information economy."

According to Hughes, the rising importance of privacy as a global business imperative has had a positive effect on the association, which now boasts more than 4,000 members in 32 countries, 1,500 of which have earned their CIPP certification, and that each month, on average, 100 new members are added to the association's rolls.
That influx of new members means increased networking and educational opportunities as fresh perspectives and new thinking come into the fold, strengthening the association and the profession. Those expanding opportunities are illustrated by a number of new initiatives available to IAPP members, including Privacy After Hours networking events and the Practical Privacy Series of seminars being held across the country — programs Hughes said are "building the social fabric of our profession."

Networking a Highlight of Day 2

KnowledgeLink networking sessions kicked off the second day of the conference, with groups of privacy pros gathering with industry colleagues to focus on best practices in consumer marketing, financial services, government, healthcare/pharmaceutical, higher education, human resources and international privacy.

In the human resources KnowledgeLink session, the discussion started with the implications of employee background checks — an issue very much in the formative stages as companies grapple with how to structure processes for determining risk among employees while not running afoul of Equal Employment Opportunity law. Five percent of background checks uncover criminal records, 20 percent return negative credit information, while 40 percent reveal credentialing issues. Given those statistics, one can surmise that the impact employment privacy will have on business worldwide is just beginning to become clear.

In the healthcare/pharma session, the group talked about the use of non-personal, statistical healthcare information and the misconceptions the public has about how the industry markets to consumers. The question of how physicians see themselves in the information chain also came up: Do they conduct themselves in the traditional manner, or are they operating as a small business with an understanding of how the use of business data can benefit their business?

The atmosphere in the marketing KnowledgeLink session was spirited. Discussions ran the gamut, covering preference management, how pornographic spam impacts perceptions, the Federal Trade Commission's behavioral marketing forum, third party liability, and consumer management of personal marketing profiles. Meanwhile, in the financial services room, the topic of data breaches was top-of-mind, with the different implications of internal and external breaches dominating the conversation.

Academy Closes With Awards, Advice From Advocates

The day's activities closed with a midday luncheon in the Westin's Grand Ballroom, which began with Hughes presenting the 2007 HP-IAPP Privacy Innovation Awards, which recognize leadership in the development and delivery of privacy programs. This year's winners were Eli Lilly and Company in the Large Organization category; the California Office of Privacy Protection in the Small Organization category; and Novell took home the Innovation Technology Award. (See Page 26 for more coverage.)

The closing keynote was a "Meet the Advocates" panel discussion moderated by Center for Democracy & Technology Executive Director Jim Dempsey, and including Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Senior Staff Attorney to the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic; Ken McEldowney, Executive Director at San Francisco-based consumer advocacy group Consumer Action; and Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director with the ACLU of Northern California. Each panel member offered advice to attendees on do's and don'ts for working with advocacy groups. The common themes were to engage advocates early and incorporate privacy into the design of products and services from the beginning.

See You in D.C.!

With the close of yet another successful Academy, planning is already well under way for the annual Privacy Summit, being held once again at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel on March 26-28. Stay tuned to the Daily Dashboard and our Web site, www.privacysummit.org,
for registration and programming details.


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