In our continuing series to celebrate the IAPP’s 10-year anniversary, this month we look back at the early days of the privacy profession with Jennifer Barrett. Widely considered the first person to hold the title of chief privacy officer, Jennifer has been heading up privacy efforts at Arkansas-based databroker Acxiom Corp for almost 20 years. Jennifer joined Acxiom in 1974 after receiving a degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Texas at Austin, and prior to her position as CPO worked in almost every facet of the company. The Privacy Advisor asked her a few questions about her work, and how it has evolved through the years.

What were some of the things you were concerned with during that first year as CPO?

In 1991 when I first took on the role of CPO there was no general privacy related legislation domestically or in the UK which at that time was our only international operation. There were emerging concerns about telemarketing and a few state do-not-call registries, the first one having been enacted in Florida in 1986. My CPO responsibilities only took up about 25 percent of my total time and were focused on improving the DMA self-regulatory guidelines for telemarketing and direct mail. Credit issuers were a large segment of our client base, so we also complied with the FCRA guidelines relative to pre-approved offers of credit. All in all, a pretty simple world compared to today.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen since the beginning of your career in privacy?

My entire career has been managing through one big change after another. This includes an explosion of laws, regulations, and industry codes of conduct coupled with some extraordinary corporate growth at Acxiom. When I took on the role of CPO we were only doing business in three countries—the U.S., Canada and the UK. Now we offer some services that are worldwide and have offices in 14 countries. In the beginning we only offered marketing-related products and services. Now we have a whole line of risk and identity management products and services for clients in industries ranging from financial, insurance, telecommunications, technology, retail, catalog, publishing, travel and entertainment to government. Revenues have grown tenfold in the last 19 years and I’ve had almost that many bosses. One of the biggest challenges I’ve had (and, I think, any other CPO with global responsibility has) is keeping up with the evolution of all the various laws and best practices that we choose to follow in all the geographies where we do business. Add to that the evolution of data-centric technologies that collect and use data for either marketing, or risk-management purposes, and my middle name should probably be change.


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»