Privacy stakes, value on the rise

Few headlines have raised the consciousness of those of us working in and around the privacy profession as one published last month: Privacy Professional Facing Criminal Charges.

The news that four Google executives, including the company’s head of global privacy, had been criminally charged for certain content posted to Google’s Italian YouTube site turned heads worldwide.

Just when we thought the job of privacy officer couldn’t get any more complicated, we were forced to turn our focus to this new specter—the potential of doing time for your company’s everyday activities.

It is not likely that those charged in the Google case will go to jail. A Google lawyer and even a prosecutor close to the case have acknowledged that the charges were brought forward primarily to hone the discussion on who bears the responsibility for Internet content. However, the case has yet to play out.

The matter raises many questions for privacy professionals, especially those who work, or may someday work for a multinational. Is this a flash in the pan? Or is it the new liability of being a CPO? If the latter, the stakes have been raised for certain.

We will work out some of the questions this case raises in future issues, as we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Court of Milan proceedings in the coming months.

Now for a less complicated subject. In a recent post on techdirt.com, a blogger suggested a Creative Commons for privacy policies—a place where companies could mix, match and meld the best attributes into their own policies.

What of this idea? Could a Creative Commons, a Privacy Park if you will, help everyone create policies that are more accessible to consumers, the majority of whom admit that most privacy policies are confusing?

Let us know what you think at publications@privacyassociation.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Lastly, in a recent issue of our Inside 1to1: Privacy newsletter we ran a story about privacy in the midst of a recession. (See iapp.org/1to1) As author Larry Dobrow found out, privacy and security have so far spared the axe that has fallen on so many other areas of companies worldwide.

We are seeing evidence of this in the numbers of those attending our Privacy Summit in Washington, DC this month. At the time this newsletter went to press, it was shaping up to be our most-attended event ever. It would seem that not only is privacy sparing the axe, increasingly its value is being recognized by stakeholders.

J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP
Executive Director, IAPP


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