By Sam Pfeifle
Seth Grossman, counselor to the acting secretary and deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced last night that Karen Neuman, a partner in the DC law firm St. Ledger-Roty Neuman & Olson LLP (SLRNO), has been named chief privacy officer for DHS.
She takes over for Jonathan Cantor, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, who has been acting chief privacy officer since the departure of Mary Ellen Callahan, CIPP/US, from the position in August of last year.
Neuman, a longtime member of the IAPP, has an extensive background in privacy and data protection, with particular expertise in “children’s privacy, federal and state privacy regulatory frameworks and industry self-regulatory programs and … a specialized niche advising a wide range of companies on integrating mobile apps and social media into their business models,” according to her bio. Neuman spoke at the 2013 IAPP Global Privacy Summit on “Location, Location, Location: Risks and Rewards of Location-Based Services,” along with S. Jenell Trigg, CIPP/US, of Lerman Senter, and Michelle Shanahan, senior associate general counsel for National Public Radio.
In an interview with The Privacy Advisor, Callahan, now a partner with Jenner & Block LLP, called Neuman’s appointment “great news for the Department of Homeland Security and for the federal privacy community. The DHS CPO is the policy and de facto leader of the federal privacy community, and having the political appointee officer missing during these turbulent times has been a detriment.
“Karen is joining, in my humble opinion,” she continued, “the best privacy team in the country, so she will be very well supported and advised.”
In addition to the staff at DHS, Neuman will also be able to call upon the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, which is chaired by Hunton & Williams Partner Lisa Sotto, CIPP/US, CIPM, and has 23 experienced privacy pros as members.
So, what’s first on the docket for Neuman? “It will be important for her to be able to engage at a political level with policy decisions for the department and inter-agency,” Callahan said. “The first few months at DHS are overwhelming, with acronyms, diverse missions and sensitive information, but she has been doing her homework to prepare; the DHS Privacy Office will support her, and I know the rest of the privacy community will welcome her aboard.”
Neuman’s appointment now leaves one other political privacy position open: The privacy and civil liberties officer at the Department of Justice, a position that has now been vacant for more than a year.
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