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The Privacy Advisor | Under Armour takes 'honorable mention' for building innovative privacy program Related reading: For Groman, privacy is as important at his house as it was at Obama's

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As thousands of privacy professionals flock to Austin this year for Privacy. Security. Risk. 2018, all will surely be eager to hear who will be announced as this year’s HPE-IAPP Privacy Innovation Award winner. And while the winner's podium is narrow, that doesn't mean there aren't additional companies also doing some pretty impressive work on privacy. This year, an honorable mention goes to Under Armour.

The HPE-IAPP Privacy Innovation Awards recognize unique programs and services in global privacy and data protection, in either the private or public sector, that integrate privacy in a way that elevates its value as both a competitive differentiator and a centerpiece of customer and citizen trust.

The team at data privacy and protection platform WireWheel, led by Founder and CEO Justin Antonipillai, nominated Under Armour for the award. Antonipillai said that while WireWheel works with a number of companies, Under Armour stood out among the crowd. 

“We wanted Under Armour to be recognized for the incredible work they have done and for their innovation and dedication to their privacy program,” Antonipillai said. 

In an interview with The Privacy Advisor, Toke Vandervoort, vice president and deputy counsel at Under Armour, said, “There are so many qualified privacy programs that could be considered for this award, to be a finalist is really something to be proud of." She added that the fact WireWheel felt inclined to nominate Under Armour’s privacy program was an honor in itself.

Humility is an established corporate value at Under Armour, she continued. While Vandervoort wouldn't take full credit for the privacy program’s growth and success, she said, “It was a young program and has come a long way. The proof is not only what the team has done to develop a truly global program, but that it was in a good place to successfully manage crisis when we were called upon to demonstrate our responsibility.”

The sports retailer certainly has reason to have a strong program, given the amount of data involved. Vandervoort said the company already had expansive global operations but that the acquisition of three fitness apps — MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo—  turned the company into the largest fitness and wellness community in the world, putting data and privacy issues front and center.

She said, “We have almost 250 million registered accounts with 50 million active monthly recurring members. When we acquired the mobile apps, we suddenly had half-a-dozen different privacy policies around the world. Job one was just getting our arms around what we had, what our policies were and trying to align and harmonize that on a global scale, but the need to really drive the program forward, meant we had to do a couple of  things to innovate.”

To do that, Vandervoort said Under Armour is collaborating with WireWheel to implement its data-mapping tool.

“Having that data map was probably the biggest thing we’ve done in the past year in terms of compliance, assessment and data management. It not only advanced our understanding of what we have, management of our data and the necessary compliance that we are required to do, but it has some interesting unintended benefits in other parts of the business.”

She said, “Having an ongoing, iterative, living data map has revealed things that have allowed for synergy. From a data perspective, that’s been very interesting. This one compliance driven innovation tool has seen benefits throughout the company.”

As deputy counsel, Vandervoort also has a seat on the chief digital officer's senior leadership team, works closely with the cybersecurity team and engages with product development and engineering. The company’s three-person privacy team has developed and nurtured strong relationships within the company to enable visibility and integration into all aspects of the business.

Integration, innovation and strong relationships support the company’s responsive privacy program. For privacy counsel, Vandervoort said it's been especially important to be integrated with the technology, understand how it works and to adopt a business outlook. Doing so helps the team to know how to shape programs and influence development in a constructive and privacy-minded way.

“For Under Armour,” she said, “the key for privacy is innovation and integration. Tactically, there are tools we engage to make all of this happen efficiently, so that we have clarity and ease of communication with product and engineering teams, but especially in the event of an incident where we need to address consumer questions. While collaboration tools aren’t uncommon, we leverage them heavily.”

For now, that's a philosophy that seems to be working. 

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