February 20, 2006

Responding to a Subpoena: A Privacy Practitioner's Guide

IAPP To Offer Privacy Pros A Step-By-Step Plan For Responding to Subpoenas in Civil and Criminal Cases

YORK, Maine — February 20, 2006 — The IAPP announced today a new panel for the IAPP National Summit 2006 to help privacy pros prepare for, and respond to, the arrival of a subpoena seeking access to sensitive customer information in a civil or criminal case.

The session will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on March 9 at the IAPP National Summit 2006 in Washington, D.C.

Jim Koenig, Co-Leader of the Privacy Practice of
PricewaterhouseCoopers, will moderate the panel. Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Ben Vernia, special counsel, Covington & Burling, are the panel's participants.

"The Justice Department's subpoenas should be a wake-up call to Internet users that portals and search engines know and keep track of what you search for on the Internet, and often won't go to court to protect that personal information from being turned over to the government," Tien said.
"The easiest defense against this snooping is to dump that data, because the government can't get what you don't have."

The panel participants will offer practical guidance on how to handle the delicate aspects of responding to legal requests for information. Given the privacy impacts on a company's reputation for granting access to personal information, this timely session will help to eliminate the guesswork and trepidation for privacy pros who dread the day when that inevitable subpoena hits.

"In the past 20 years, we have witnessed dramatic increases both in the number and kinds of subpoenas available to the government and private parties, and in the amounts, sensitivity and distribution of data susceptible to discovery," Vernia said. "Litigants, subjects, targets of investigations and third-party holders of information are frequently confronted with complex legal decisions when they receive a subpoena, particularly because the subpoena is an ancient investigative tool not well-suited to the age of the Internet. Knowing the principal features of subpoenas, and a subpoena recipient's rights and obligations, will take some of the fear out of hearing the subpoena-server's knock at the door."

The issue has gained wide attention recently after Google decided to fight the US Justice Department, which was seeking access to Google's search records. The responses of other companies in similar circumstances and the fallout afterward have been scrutinized as this privacy dilemma unfolded in recent weeks.

This new session has been added to what already is the largest and most anticipated privacy conference. The top privacy and security industry leaders and public policymakers will gather for in-depth sessions on a broad range of topics, including the US and global legislative response to data security, digital rights management and the pros and cons of federal privacy legislation.

What:        IAPP National Summit 2006
When:       March 8-10, 2006
Where:      Omni Shoreham Hotel
                  2500 Calvert St., NW
                  Washington, D.C.  20008

Media wishing to cover the Summit should send a request to

For more information or to register for the Summit, visit