The Year in Review

2013: The Year of Privacy

Privacy Perspectives word cloud

If there ever was a “year of privacy,” surely it was 2013. A year that ends with selecting “privacy” as “word of the year;” with privacy making front-page headlines in The New York Times and The Washington Post (not to mention The Guardian) on a weekly, indeed almost daily, basis; with cross-Atlantic ties stretched to the limit over privacy issues, the UN passing a privacy resolution and armies of lobbyists spinning BCRs and Do-Not-Track in Washington bars and Brussels cafes—ladies and gentlemen, 2013 was the year of privacy.

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The NSA, Tor, Vodafone and LIBE Committee Meet To Chat

(From left): Former cyber advisor to Pres. Obama Howard Schmidt and former NSA General Counsel Steward Baker at this year’s IAPP Privacy Academy.

Imagine the NSA, European Parliament, Tor and Vodafone having a civilized conversation about privacy. Considering that the ricochets from the Snowden affair are still reverberating on both sides of the Atlantic, this may seem implausible. But you better believe it: the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress 2013 is featuring a panel discussion among representatives of all of the above, which I look forward to moderating.

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What Acxiom Can Teach the NSA About Transparency

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

At last month’s IAPP Privacy Academy, I attended a session on “taming Big Data.” Much of the discussion involved the difficulties of conveying Big Data collection and use practices to consumers. As IAPP VP of Research Omer Tene has said, explaining the online tracking landscape would be equal to placing an average person in the cockpit of a fighter jet and asking him or her to fly it. Good luck with that.

Being transparent about such complex processes is understandably challenging for Big Data businesses and the privacy pros fully immersed in the weeds. We also hear folks talk about fostering consumer trust through corporate accountability. Good companies will be as transparent as possible, but must continuously demonstrate to their customers that they are trustworthy. Transparency is but one step toward a truly accountable organization and it’s a process that never really ends. 

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While Demanding NSA Reform, Let’s Avoid Watergate Stereotypes

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

You may have heard this weekend folks will be taking to the streets of Washington to demand an end to what many believe has become a surveillance state in light of the NSA’s programs revealed this past summer.

Whenever folks take to the streets, it’s easy to harken back to the 1960s and ’70s. And when it comes to Americans’ mistrust of government, it’s easy to conjure up images of President Nixon and Watergate. Well, in some ways it’s like 1974 all over again. Fears about government spying are back in the U.S. and as strong as ever.

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Big Data’s Thirst Is Driving Change in Minimization Philosophy

By Andrew Clearwater, CIPP/US

The recent National Security Administration (NSA) revelations demonstrate a broader trend: A retreat from minimization in collection and a move toward minimization in use. If you trust the collector not to break the rules, then a collect-first, minimize-later privacy model shouldn’t present a privacy impact, but recent revelations by The Washington Post have shown what happens when the collector becomes distrusted.

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