Privacy Advisor

Notes from the Executive Director

April 1, 2008

Reaching a New Summit

You would think I'd be used to it now, but I am always surprised by what I see transpire during the IAPP's primary conferences—and pleasantly so. Our attendee count rises with each successive conference, and forum and plenary discussions continue to blaze trails, not only in our profession but also in the breadth of industries affected by privacy issues. The 2008 Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C. this past March was no exception.

We've chronicled the Summit in this issue, but it's worth noting a few highlights.

The conference opened with keynote addresses by National Public Radio's distinguished legal correspondent Nina Totenberg and respected George Washington University law professor and author Jeffrey Rosen discussing the role and history of the courts in shaping U.S. privacy law. A fascinating tandem of speeches, Totenberg and Rosen put the evolution of privacy in an attainable context, while hinting at how our profession will likely be influenced. Even as we wait for Congress to take legislative action on our most vexing issues, the courts are methodically and indelibly shaping law.

Preconference and breakout sessions addressed numerous leading-edge issues—online social networking and behavioral targeting; medical privacy, electronic health records and genetic privacy; obtaining executive buy-in for supporting privacy programs; and protecting sensitive personal data during mergers and acquisitions, among many other topics. A host of options for keeping abreast of international privacy developments in emerging privacy cultures in Asia, as well as within the more mature environs of the EU, provide attendees with a more global view.

In the end, we heard a provocative round-table discussion among a seasoned panel of international privacy leaders from government, industry, and academia. The panelists, Martin Abrams of Hunton & Williams, Microsoft's Peter Cullen, Google's Peter Fleischer, UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, Eduardo Ustaran of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, Bermuda Director of E-Commerce Nancy Volesky, and Dr. Alan Westin, discussed the pros and cons of the various privacy models in use and being considered around the world.

Plans are already well underway for our September Privacy Academy at Disneyworld. Recent news and events provide excellent fodder for programming this event, and you can be assured that we'll find ourselves at the cutting edge once again when we next convene. Meanwhile, check the calendar of events at to see what's happening with KnowledgeNet, executive forums, audio conferences, and other symposia to help keep you connected and learning throughout the year.

J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP
Executive Director, IAPP