When you’re among between 3,500 and 4,000 privacy professionals for the better part of a week, you can’t help but feel that this privacy thing is here to stay.
At the IAPP Global Privacy Summit this week in Washington, we had lots of opportunities to learn about what’s going on, to connect with old and new colleagues from around the globe, and to be reminded that privacy has a human element to it, at its core, that we should not forget.
On this last point, I am referencing two keynote presenters — Monica Lewinsky and John Ronson — who made powerful speeches about how a lack of privacy or a privacy violation can have significant, long-lasting and harmful effects on our humanity. It served as a nice reminder that doing privacy well matters.
A couple of weeks ago, I used this space to invite the Canadians who were attending the Summit to gather together for an informal meet-and-greet. I can now report back that we had nearly 80 Canadians meet up to discuss the conference and other privacy-related issues that we are all dealing with. I, for one, had a great conversation with a representative of the Department of Justice, whose job it is to move the needle on Privacy Act reform. It was enlightening to hear about the efforts he has undertaken, but clearly, there’s more work to be done if we want our outdated federal public sector law to get modernized.
I also had a chance to chat with Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien at our Canadian gathering. We didn’t have too much time together (since he was in high demand to make the rounds around the room), but we did end up talking a bit about an event that is coming up next week in Toronto. It’s a forum being hosted by The Globe and Mail and is essentially going to be a sort of debate about reputation, the right to be forgotten, and free speech. Google will be well represented, as will the OPC, since the commissioner will be there to listen to what people have to say and to explain where he is currently at in terms of thinking of these issues. Details of the event are here. If you’re in the Toronto area, you may want to check it out.
I wish I could because I think the debate has significance for me right now, particularly after those two keynotes I mentioned above, which reminded me and others I spoke to that privacy has a real human component. How the debate ultimately gets resolved (i.e., how our privacy laws are interpreted) will have pretty profound effects on the lives of many.
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