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Privacy Tech | Platform helps privacy pros compare tech vendor solutions Related reading: A closer look at Carnegie Mellon's privacy engineering program

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As major privacy laws are passed around the world, organizations want to stay on top of compliance requirements in order to avoid significant financial penalties. Privacy technology has become an important asset in those efforts, and as the need for solutions grows, privacy tech vendors are hitting the market at a rapid rate.

The 2018 version of the IAPP Privacy Tech Vendor Report includes more than 200 entries, and some companies made news after receiving millions of dollars in funding. The privacy tech market has never been hotter.

A surge in privacy tech vendors may be great for companies wishing to avoid enforcement actions; however, there was one issue IITR Datenschutz GmbH Founder and IAPP Country Leader for Germany Sebastian Kraska identified and wanted to help take on. As more vendors pop up, privacy professionals may struggle to determine which solutions best suit their needs.

It is why IITR Datenschutz GmbH launched Privacy Top 20, a website that breaks down data protection solutions into five categories and allows users to compare different tools. The five categories include compact solutions for smaller organizations, data protection management systems for large companies, e-learning solutions, external data protection officers, and representatives for compliance with Article 27 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Within each page, users can see the features for each product and compare them to other vendors listed on the specific category page. The website lists out the prices for the tools and allows interested parties to contact the platform to get offers on the products.

Should someone wish to compare specific products against one another, they can check off those items and see them side by side. If they wish to share the comparisons, the platform can generate a PDF with the results. Kraska said the document could be shown to C-suite executives to help privacy programs receive more funding.

“They can use the website to click on the products they think are relevant to showcase to their clients, click on PDF export and can use it to directly provide information to their clients,” Kraska said.

Privacy Top 20 came online earlier this year and mainly listed vendors in the German market. An English version of the site was launched in June. Kraska said PT20 sought to address what his company heard as a common complaint from those who looked for privacy tech solutions. The tools were out there, but transparency was a problem as it was challenging to figure out who to contact and which services to buy.

Transparency is an important part of the project for Kraska and IITR Datenschutz GmbH. On the website’s legal notice page, it states that IITR Datenschutz GmbH is behind the site and that its products are among those listed.

Over the first months of the site’s existence, vendors primarily came from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With the release of the English version of the site, Kraska said there has been some interest in companies from the U.S. and U.K.

Kraska said there are criteria vendors must meet in order to be listed on the platform. A vendor has to be on the market for a given amount of time and have information on their website that is publicly available. Since the launch of PT20, Kraska notes vendors have made alterations to their sites in order to be considered for listing.

Regardless of where the vendors and visitors come from, Kraska knows which type of privacy professional would benefit most from the service.

“We are trying to educate the person in charge looking for that type of service,” Kraska said. “It should be a person who has a lot of background information on what specific type of solution he or she needs in the company. We are trying to support that person in that situation to find the right solution.”

The website received 2,000 visitors in June, which exceeded Kraska’s expectations. The majority of those visitors were vendors rather than customers. It was a result Kraska thought would run in reverse; however, the average time for each visitor has been high, which Kraska believes is evidence of users conducting research.

Kraska said they have listened to user feedback and will work to improve the user experience. For example, Kraska said more written guidance will be added to the site to help better describe the listed products and give more context to what each tool can help a privacy program accomplish.

Future categories may be added to the platform as time goes on, Kraska said. While that time may come down the line, Kraska said privacy professionals have been happy with what they have seen so far.

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