Privacy Advisor

Notes From the Executive Director

September 1, 2007

California's Reach and Influence

While the U.S. Congress has yet to take action this year to adopt a California-style security breach notification law, the state's ground-breaking statute is making a significant global impact as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada mull notification mandates similar to SB-1386.

The first of its kind in the U.S. when it was adopted in 2003, the law requires state agencies and private-sector organizations that do business in the state to disclose the breach of any computerized system that contains the unencrypted personal information of California residents. As other countries grapple with security breaches that go unreported in the absence of any legal requirement, the scope of California's model statute is becoming evident as privacy advocates are making their cases for a mandatory breach disclosure requirement while invoking SB-1386 as the standard.

Australia's Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis has urged her country to consider adoption of a mandatory breach law that models the notification laws in the U.S. To bolster the case for a law that mirrors SB-1386, a Gartner analyst recently commented during the company's IT Security Summit in Sydney that a proliferation of security breach notification laws in nearly 40 states has compelled many U.S. organizations to improve security, according to ZDNet Australia coverage of his remarks. In the past year, large-scale breaches that have reached around the globe have led parliamentary committees in the UK and Canada to recommend mandatory breach laws. New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff last month announced a draft guide for the management of security breaches, which is setting the stage for a full-scale discussion about the need for a data breach disclosure law there.

California's impact is well-established in the arena of consumer protection and privacy. As other countries grapple with the inevitability of data breaches, California's global reach and influence is omnipresent. In the heart of this state that has generated precedent-setting privacy legislation as well as some of the leading innovators in our information economy, the IAPP will host privacy pros for the IAPP Privacy Academy 2007, Oct. 22-24, at The Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. The Academy will combine these forces for a provocative brew of privacy, stirred by leading privacy thought leaders, California privacy advocates and corporate influencers in the privacy profession. 

And in keeping with the IAPP's tradition of serving as the conduit for privacy pros everywhere, I want to invite you to join in social networking —privacy-style — by taking advantage of an IAPP presence on Facebook, another innovation based in California.

See you in San Francisco!

J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP
Executive Director, IAPP