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The Privacy Advisor | For This Privacy Pro, Going High-Tech Is the Right Fit Related reading: FCC to vote on net neutrality Dec. 14

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What excites K Royal, CIPP/E, CIPP/US, most about her new job is the way that she’s now such an integral part of the business process. Royal left her post in Silicon Valley as Align Technology’s first privacy counsel to work as vice president and assistant general counsel for an emerging technology company in Arizona. CellTrust Corporation specializes in securing mobile communications. 

The company initially introduced SecureSMS to the market in 2007, followed by SecureVoice in 2012. Due to the industry need and demand for both features, the combined solution CellTrust SecureLine, with secure text messaging and voice, was launched just more than a year ago, and is responding to industry requests for myriad features.

“I’m hitting the ground running. Period,” Royal said of the new gig. That’s because the learning curve is essentially vertical, given the company’s work in cutting-edge mobile technology. “But the part that really thrills me here is I’m not just the privacy or the compliance person. I am fundamentally contributing to the mission of the company.”

As a privacy attorney, it’s not often you’re so hands-on on product development that you’re actually updating user guides, but, that’s the kind of immersion Royal’s enjoyed to date, she said.

CellTrust’s app allows users to encrypt voice and text messages that can be archived for retention and eDiscovery, and it also allows users to maintain two mobile numbers on the same device, one for personal use and one for business. If an employee leaves the organization, the company retains the mobile business number.

“The industry really needs this,” Royal said of the product. Coming from working in healthcare and medical devices for the last seven years, Royal understands just how necessary data protection is on mobile devices. Thus far, all the guidance on texting in healthcare has been risk assessments and policies because encryption really hasn’t been feasible, she said.

CellTrust's hiring of a privacy counsel is a reflection of its recognition of the importance of embedded privacy protections, Royal said. So one of the first things she did was to get involved in product development meetings.

She laughs as she describes how that’s been going so far.

"The engineers asked, 'Respectfully, K, we like you, but why is an attorney involved in our engineering meeting?'"

But once they started getting into the privacy nuances in conversations with customers, they quickly started to understand why.

Recently, for example, Royal was involved in a conversation about a client recording laws in one-party states vs. all party states (in some states only one party on the line must be aware a recording device is being used; in others, all parties must be notified). This is where Royal feels her expertise contributes to the product development.

Besides getting up-to-speed on the technology’s intricacies, Royal said one of the biggest challenges of the job is staying on top of the changing regulatory environment, such as complex data-transfer mechanisms, which isn’t always a clear cut matter. She points to two recent rulings, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Federal Trade Commission v. Wyndham Worldwide and the Federal Communications Commission’s declaratory ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

For Royal, being part of CellTrust is sort of a throwback to her early beginnings: She worked at a start-up in 2000 before she ever attending law school. It was then that she fell in love with emerging technologies. 

“I am where I am supposed to be,” Royal says. “I am a round peg in a round hole. Or given that I am such a nerd, perhaps a square peg in a square hole is a better analogy.”

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