Regardless of your political affiliation, the recent election results must be regarded as a momentous occasion for the U.S. and, indeed, the world. At a recent conference for the GDD, our sister organization in Germany, I was struck by how many Europeans are fascinated by the President Elect. Their interest was based on all the "firsts" that Barack Obama represents. But they were also very interested in the possible changes in U.S. public policy as it relates to privacy.
One attendee at the Cologne event—a CPO for a leading German company—thought that the U.S. was migrating towards a Euro-style approach to privacy (we had been discussing the recent Massachusetts law and the obligations it will place on U.S. businesses). This particular CPO thought that an Obama administration might be willing to seriously consider national privacy legislation. But another attendee felt that the economic crisis would force the U.S. to dispense with expensive compliance legislation and loosen some of the current privacy obligations in the marketplace.
It is difficult to predict how privacy may evolve in 2009. But we certainly know that our issues will be well managed. The fledgling Obama transition team is well-stocked with privacy experts. Many of our members are working to build the new administration. And perhaps no one is more senior than Christine Varney, who spoke at the recent IAPP Privacy Academy, and has been named personnel counsel for Obama. Christine is a former FTC Commissioner, and in private practice founded both the Online Privacy Alliance (OPA) and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI).
Speaking of the NAI, many of you know that I have concurrently been serving as the executive director for both the IAPP and the NAI (and the ESPC, a former division of the NAI) for many years. With the growth of the IAPP, I am happy to announce that I will be moving into a full time role with only the IAPP in 2009. My years with the NAI and ESPC have been filled with much important and challenging work, and I will miss my colleagues there. But I am thrilled to be able to focus fully on the IAPP in the future.
Onwards to 2009!
J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP
Executive Director, IAPP