Opinion

Is the U.S. About To Get Its First European-Style Employee Works Council?

By Allen Brandt, CIPP/US, CIPP/E, CIPM

A recent article in The New York Times noted that every one of Volkswagen’s (VW) manufacturing plants in the world has an employee works council except one: the VW plant in Chattanooga, TN. Works councils are popular in VW’s home country of Germany and created by a directive in the European Union. This directive mandates employees have a voice in working with management about working conditions in their environment.

U.S. chief privacy officers (CPOs) and their European counterparts—data protection officers (DPOs)—often work with works councils in many areas but especially in protecting employee privacy. In fact, German DPOs and their corporate works councils have a reputation for being strong defenders in protecting privacy rights. Want to monitor e-mail or social media in the workplace? Centralize your HR records in the U.S.? Or ready to add a whistleblower hotline? The German Works Council Act, for example, empowers the works council to agree or refuse consent of many employee-monitoring devices. All of these require consultation in advance of the organization’s works council, and you can expect to hear a strong statement in support of protecting privacy rights!

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I Don’t Know Which Will Go First—Rock ‘n Roll or Privacy

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

In an otherwise rambling, drunken session at Elektra Studios in 1969, the Doors recorded a blues-backed jam called “Rock is Dead.” Jim Morrison’s Nietzsche-influenced rant on rock’s death has been repeated by other musicians, reviewers and record store employees countless times. Punk is dead. Grunge is dead. Hip hop? Yeah, that too.

But the phrase is not particular to the modern music tradition.

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Opinion

Parallel Privacy Universes and PRISM

The U.S. and Europe seem locked in their own separate, parallel universes in the way they view PRISM and other recent revelations concerning law enforcement data access, as demonstrated by differences in transatlantic media coverage.

Here in Europe, discussion of law enforcement surveillance of electronic communications has dominated the major news media for the last few weeks. By contrast,...

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Changing the Conversation: Why Thinking “Data is the New Oil” May Not Be Such a Good Thing

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

Information is power and Big Data is fueling our economy, prompting many to consider data the new oil. Clearly the value of data—particularly personal data—has never been as dynamic, exciting and potentially dangerous as it is now.

But is thinking of data as the new oil really such a good thing?

For data artist Jer Thorpe, the answer is no.

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Careers

Why I Became A Privacy Professional—And What Privacy Means

By Phil Lee, CIPP/E, CIPM

Long before I became a privacy professional, I first graduated with a degree in computer science. At the time, like many graduates, I had little real notion of what it was I wanted to do with my life, so I took a couple of internships working as a database programmer. That was my first introduction to the world of data.

I quickly realized that I had little ambition to remain a career programmer, so I began to look at other professions. In my early twenties, and having the kind of idealistic tendencies commonplace in many young graduates, I decided I wanted to do something that mattered, something that would—in some way—benefit the world: I chose to become a lawyer.

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