Privacy Advisor


December 1, 2006

Line Mike Spinney

Boston's chapter of the IAPP KnowledgeNet welcomed a new team of co-chairs during the summer. Agnes Bundy Scanlan, CIPP, counsel with the Boston office of law firm Goodwin Procter LLP and an IAPP board member; Joan Quinn, privacy manager at Bank of America; and Mike Spinney, CIPP, principal of the communications firm SixWeight constitute the Boston chapter's new team.

The Boston chapter convened on November 1 to discuss establishing best practice-based privacy programs. Meeting at Ernst & Young's offices in the landmark Hancock Tower, a capacity crowd of more than 30 privacy pros was on hand as Sovereign Bank CPO Carol Pockrus and Investors Bank & Trust assistant general counsel John Beccia discussed, from their perspective within the financial services industry, building, managing, and maintaining an effective privacy program.

The interactive session drew enthusiastic participation as attendees commented on the importance of utilizing a blend of internal and outside resources to ensure all essential elements of privacy are considered, and to maintain an influx of new information and ideas - critical in a fast-paced, changeable environment like privacy.

Clear from the outset was the fact that different organizations approach privacy in different ways, even within the same industry. Attendees reported that the privacy functions of respective employers reported to a wide range of departments, including IT, legal and compliance, security, or directly to the CEO or board of directors. No wrong answers, merely differing approaches, but all agreed that vigilance up and down the chain of command, as well as regular reporting to the executive suite are requirements for success.

Other issues sparking much discussion were classification of data, vendor review, training and communication, and how to affect the establishment of a privacy-conscious culture.

As the meeting drew to a close there were many requests for a continuation of the discussion. Indeed, the Boston co-chairs are already planning a follow-on session for Q1 2007 in order to build on the success of November.

Mike Spinney, CIPP, is principal of the communications consultancy SixWeight, and has more than 15 years of experience providing privacy-savvy strategic communications counsel to business organizations. He is a member of the prestigious Ponemon Institute, co-chair of the IAPP's Boston KnowledgeNet chapter, and a member of the Merrimack Valley Venture Forum. Spinney is a monthly contributor to the INSIDE 1to1: Privacy newsletter, maintains his privacy blog, Private Communications, and is an opinionist for He may be reached at his website, email or +978.597.0342.