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The Privacy Advisor | If privacy pros can't be together in person, they'll be together online Related reading: Privacy leaders: How COVID-19 impacts privacy programs

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As she spoke with privacy professionals in Bermuda from her home in Toronto, Canada, Lauren Reid, CIPP/E, CIPP/US, CIPM, FIP, envisioned she was physically joining her peers on the island.

“I’m pretty sure the weather is exactly the same,” Reid, president of the Privacy Pro, joked. “It’s 9 degrees here today.”

Despite the temperature and 1,114-mile difference or the COVID-19 pandemic canceling in-person gatherings and forcing many professionals to work from home, Reid and about a dozen members of the Bermuda KnowledgeNet Chapter recently connected virtually to talk professional advancement through IAPP certifications. In addition to running her boutique privacy consulting firm, Reid volunteers delivering IAPP certification training.

Their discussion was one of many virtual IAPP KnowledgeNet events planned as professionals look for ways to continue to connect during the pandemic. KnowledgeNet chapters around the world have gathered virtually to discuss addressing data protection issues during the pandemic; privacy, trust and ethics; and navigating the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology cybersecurity and privacy frameworks, to name just a few topics. And more are being planned daily.                        

Since its formation earlier this spring, the Bermuda KnowledgeNet Chapter has yet to host an in-person event — with the island under strict shelter-in place rules and professionals working from home since then due to COVID-19. But in recent weeks, members have participated in a virtual Happy Hour, a Coffee Chat called “Mug for the Camera” (during which they fittingly showed off their coffee mugs), and the recent certification discussion.

“Working with the IAPP team to get these events organized has given everyone a boost,” said Bermuda Privacy Commissioner Alexander White, CIPP/A, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, CIPM, CIPT, FIP, who has organized the Bermuda chapter’s virtual gatherings. “It’s a huge relief to see colleagues and interact — especially in the social meetings.”

Local chapter chairs, all volunteers, plan the virtual chapter meetings, which happen live and are free.

IAPP Member Engagement Director Amber Munnelly said these virtual events are new for the IAPP and the KnowledgeNet chapters, but participation has been strong and continues to grow as new chapters join in.  

“It’s cool to see how quickly they came together,” said IAPP Member Engagement Manager Amanda Charbonneau, CIPP/US. “The feel is very similar to a web con.”

Upcoming virtual KnowledgeNet meetings are being planned by chapters in San Diego, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Thailand, and more and feature topics including an update on the California Privacy Rights Act, surveillance and privacy by design, and getting ready for the Thailand Personal Data Protection Act.  

White, who previously served as a KnowledgeNet co-chair in South Carolina, said that both there and in Bermuda questions about IAPP certifications are common as privacy professionals learn about the organization and how to advance their careers. 

“Here in Bermuda, we have a highly skilled workforce and sibling chapters for security, auditing, accounting and compliance organizations, so people wondered what makes the IAPP different and how privacy fits into other skill sets,” he said. “In my ‘day job,’ I am working to develop the island’s privacy officer workforce to meet the demand from our new privacy law, so it tied in nicely with my goals there.”

He’s excited about chapter members’ response to the virtual sessions, seeing double-digit attendance, a growing IAPP KnowledgeNet: Bermuda Chapter LinkedIn group and “enthusiastic” individuals interested in co-chairing the chapter.

The virtual events have also had the added bonus of expanding the chapter’s speaker pool, White said.

“Due to our location, for in-person events, we would likely have a local speaker or someone who happens to be on-island,” he said. “With virtual events, we can have a speaker from elsewhere in the world participate as if they were my neighbor, which gives us the opportunity for more diverse voices and to help professionals network with global colleagues.”

For future sessions, White said he hopes to balance skills and training sessions with policy and abstract discussions about new issues and technologies. “Not to mention social events, too, as we’ll still be socializing-from-a-distance for the near future,” he said.

To find upcoming Virtual KnowledgeNet meetings, Happy Hours and Coffee Chats, visit https://iapp.org/store/knowledgenets/.

If you are interested in volunteering with an IAPP KnowledgeNet chapter or being a speaker at an upcoming virtual event, visit https://iapp.org/connect/communities/chapters/volunteer/.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash


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CIPM, CIPP/A, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, CIPT
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