Since its inception in 2004, the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) credential has served as the leading certification for privacy professionals. Like the IAPP’s membership, the CIPP credential has grown more diverse over the years. The IAPP’s flagship credential has developed into multiple credentials, including one focused on the U.S. government, Canada, Internet technology and now Europe.
The IAPP’s newest designation--the CIPP/E--was rolled out at the Data Protection Congress in Paris last November. In a year that has seen the unveiling of the European Commission’s draft data protection rules, the CIPP/E has become the newest and hottest designation for aspiring privacy professionals.
Last December, Accenture North American Director of Legal Services and Data Privacy Compliance Benjamin Hayes, CIPP/US, CIPP/G, CIPP/C, CIPP/IT, CIPP/E, became the first privacy pro to achieve all five designations.
Clearly, Hayes is steeped in a wide range of privacy knowledge. Not only does he act as both a legal and business advisor, he is a product designer, a crisis manager and an educator. Hayes is responsible for internal compliance with privacy laws, supports client and supplier contracting, doles out expertise for Privacy by Design projects, specializes in privacy legal compliance for cloud computing and has created training and education for data protection issues.
A former student of privacy scholar Peter Swire, CIPP/US, Hayes has been a privacy lawyer since 1999—his entire legal career.
The Privacy Advisor recently caught up with Hayes to discuss his five CIPP designations, what they mean for his job and aspiring privacy professionals and what achieving a “blackbelt” in privacy might mean.
The Privacy Advisor: You take on a lot of different roles in your position. How have the IAPP certifications helped you on the job?
Hayes: Internally, a number of my many roles are relatively new to the business, and so any sort of external validation that I and my team actually know what we’re doing helps to build confidence and trust with our internal clients. At the same time, these effects are limited because most people outside the privacy world don’t really know what the IAPP is or what holding a CIPP means. But within the privacy world, it’s extremely valuable, because privacy people do pay attention to these things. Our company hosts or has access to many other companies’ sensitive data, and it is critical that we understand how to properly manage that responsibility. I believe it helps Accenture when privacy professionals at our client companies see our team’s commitment to understanding data privacy issues and pushing forward in the area. Accenture was also the first company to achieve EU-wide recognition of our Binding Corporate Rules. We are continually striving to have the best privacy and data protection programs in the world.
PA: What would you say to someone who is early in their career, or switching careers, and is considering an IAPP certification?
Hayes: One of my mantras is that a privacy professional’s first job is to actually be an expert. You absolutely have to have the substantive knowledge of law, regulation, technology and trends to be effective in this area. CIPP certification has become—to the IAPP’s credit—de rigeur in order to be taken seriously as a privacy professional, so at a basic level, it is a prerequisite to privacy as a career path. It can also be a good learning vehicle for people new to the area. While there isn’t any substitute for the experience of applying privacy laws to real-world situations, studying for and passing the CIPP Foundation exam will at least give people who are new to the area a basic overview of what they should be thinking about.
CIPP certification doesn’t, of course, make someone an effective privacy professional—it’s more of an indicator. There are a number of skills that privacy professionals need—e.g., the ability to communicate clearly, to educate and to serve as agents of institutional change—that the CIPP exams don’t measure. I see CIPP certification as more of a starting place, a minimum standard for who gets to call themselves a privacy professional. Even my five certifications don’t mean much in and of themselves, but they are at least an indicator that I have spent time thinking about a range of data privacy issues and, hopefully, that I am committed to privacy as a profession. The IAPP has done a great service by establishing some minimum standards for privacy professionals, but it could go farther. I can imagine new CIPP certifications for health, financial services, etc.—and yes, I will get those too—but beyond that, I’d really love to see some sort of “master-level” certification that would serve as sort of a privacy blackbelt. CIPP sets a good basic benchmark of knowledge, but I think it would be great if there was a high bar as well.
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