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The Privacy Advisor | From Malaysia to New Hampshire: One IAPP Member’s Journey Related reading: The IAPP's top-5 most-read stories for the week of Oct. 14, 2019

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On one of the coldest days so far in New England’s frigid winter of 2015, IAPP member Noriswadi “Noris” Ismail visited the IAPP’s headquarters here in Portsmouth, NH, braving temps much colder than those at his firm’s home bases in either Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or London, UK.

Ismail is the cofounder and managing consultant of Quotient Consulting as well as the executive director/head of the Data Protection Academy Advisory Board in Malaysia and cofounder/global privacy strategist of Intuitive Asset.

He’s here in the U.S. on a three-month Fulbright Professional Exchange Program through the Department of State, researching at Fordham University in NY and George Washington Law in Washington, DC, focusing on freedom of information (FOI) and privacy law. He’s looking at what he describes as the “360-degree perspective” of FOI, and prior to his visit to the IAPP, he had met with experts at Department of Justice Office of Information Policy, Department of State, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Wilson Center, Yale, Harvard, MIT, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Syracuse with time at American University, Georgetown and UC Berkeley to come. He also attended the Data Privacy Day organized by Carnegie Mellon University, to which Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill delivered her keynote.

“A lot of issues nowadays are global, irrespective of jurisdictions,” Ismail said, explaining how his time is often split between the EU, U.S. and Asia. “The world is very small because privacy is global.”

Noriswadi Ismail joins IAPP Director of Global Business Development Alyssa Rosinski, CIPP/US, CIPM, and President and CEO Trevor Hughes, CIPP, during a visit at IAPP Headquarters earlier this winter.

Ismail’s advice for privacy pros?

“We need to start at home,” he said. “Privacy is international; there are no borders. But there’s more than that. Those of us who are parents should be talking privacy and teaching it to our children.”

In the privacy field, education, he said, is essential.

And he has quite extensive experience with that. During the spring and summer of 2011, he was a visiting data protection researcher in the University of Oxford's Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and in 2012 was appointed as Privacy-by-Design ambassador by then-Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian.

“We have a collective responsibility to educate on privacy,” he said, “global leaders, privacy pros, educators and at home.”

Ismail spoke of the importance of belonging to the IAPP and of exploring certification and education opportunities, emphasizing that privacy pros should not view privacy from the perspective of just one jurisdiction. To be able to advise clients, a key skill is the ability to link privacy with culture, he said.

Further, privacy pros need to be thought-leaders with the ability to make it clear that privacy is anything but dull, he said, and convey that message “not only on Data Privacy Day, but continuously.”

In Asia, as with any other region around the globe, privacy pros need to champion privacy at the C-Suite level and communicate ways that security and legal can understand each other, he said. 

“The privacy pro’s challenge is to bring these two together in the same room for a workable, strategic solution for the board,” he said. “Privacy should not be siloed, but it takes time to get the importance of privacy into the DNA of an organization.”

And what does a privacy pro need to accomplish this?

“You need to be skilled, certified, educated and you have to have the passion—the passion is the key,” he said, adding, “Asia needs more champions to lead this. Stakeholders need to get connected with the IAPP.”

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