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By Sam Pfeifle
Publications Director

Just how much influence does the privacy team have in large organizations? Is the C-suite paying attention to privacy? How can privacy professionals better communicate both the risk that taking privacy lightly poses and the value that good privacy practice can lend to an organization?

These are questions that any number of privacy pros would like to better understand. To that end, PricewaterhouseCoopers has a survey in the field right now, asking questions of both privacy pros and high-level executives to perhaps find some answers that will help businesses better navigate the quickly evolving field of privacy landmines.

“We have, as a firm, lots of relationships with large organizations,” said Aaron Weller, CIPP/US, CIPP/IT, managing director of data protection and privacy at PricewaterhouseCoopers, “and we’re well aware that privacy isn’t always in the same part of the organization. Sometimes it goes up through IT, through legal, through HR. One of the things we’ve noticed is that the C-suite is influenced by where the privacy program runs up through the organization.”

PwC hopes the survey will help them better understand how a privacy team can be more successful in getting budget for IT investment if, say, they’re housed in legal and not with the IT team.

“How can we get this program funded? How do we get that executive buy-in? Do the executives just want the legal side to be managed, or do they want something more consumer-focused?” These are questions, Weller said, which he hopes to be able to better understand the answers.

There is, of course, an understanding at PwC that this might be something of a tumultuous time for asking about privacy. For example, as businesses start to actually shutter (see Lavabit, Silent Circle) for privacy reasons, might executives begin to see privacy as more valuable to the organization?

“As it coincides with all of these external developments, we may see a little bit of additional positive trend toward seeing privacy that way,” agreed Rafae Bhatti, CIPP/US, manager, data protection and privacy.

“It varies depending on industry sector,” Weller added. “Some sectors, like industrial manufacturing, have a very different take on privacy than those firms that deal with consumer data on a regular basis.“

Want to make your voice heard? Take the privacy survey here. It’s open until August 31. Weller will present the results as part of his presentation, “Elevating Privacy to a Business Objective: How To Get the C-Suite To Take Action,” at the IAPP Privacy Academy in Seattle, WA, September 30 to October 2.

Read More By Sam Pfeifle:
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First PCLOB Meeting’s Ideas for USA PATRIOT Act; FISA Improvements May Affect Interaction with Private Industry
The Future of Data Dealer Is in the Balance
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