What's On The Privacy Horizon - InformationWeek

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What's On The Privacy Horizon

Some industry players share their predictions on upcoming privacy and security concerns with Parry Aftab.

In the spirit of forecasting, I asked some privacy industry leaders their thoughts and predictions on privacy issues in the coming year. Here are some of their answers:

David Hoffman is group counsel for E-business and director of privacy at Intel. His forecast focuses on the challenges of understanding the implications of CAN-SPAM, the federal anti-spam act of 2003, on how much security is enough, and how to deal with outsourcing and offshore vendor relationships. David's longer-term forecast is a few special questions we all need to think about:

  • Security--What does it mean when your bank or HMO gets hacked?

  • Location-based services--They know when you're sleeping, they know when you're awake.

  • RFID--Just where are those sensors, and where was the privacy notification?

  • Biometrics--And you thought it was bad when they stole your Social Security number!"

Joseph Alhadeff, chief privacy officer and VP of global public policy at Oracle, is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced global privacy experts. Joe sees global privacy issues as dominating the privacy arena this year. "I think that in 2004 the global nature of privacy will be an area of greater focus as it pertains to deployment of corporate processes, procedures, and technology that secure networks, systems and personnel." Much of the challenge is directed at privacy and security issues and how data should be handled once collected. "Issues of background checks, system and network monitoring, virus detection and prevention, and various other techniques needed to secure mission-critical and confidential data (including personally identifiable information) will have to be discussed."

He also sees the need for industry to work on consumer-protection issues. "Many of these tools need to be deployed to help protect against identity theft and other problematic citizen and consumer-privacy intrusions. Industry should work with other stakeholders to develop practices and procedures to optimize the security of networks and systems and provide effective investigative tools, while assuring appropriate protection of employee privacy."

Bennie Smith is CPO at DoubleClick. He joins many others I've spoken to in forecasting European Union privacy regulations as a chief privacy issue we will be facing this year. Recognizing that privacy compliance is all about definitions, he's concerned that when we say privacy in the United States it means something very different from what the rest of the world means when they say privacy. Bennie explains: "In the United States, we think of 'privacy' as loosely meaning 'leave me alone until and unless there's a significant need for regulation or legislation' (and even then it tends to be industry-focused, e.g., the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and health and financial privacy laws). In contrast, the EU tends to see privacy as 'data protection' and designs a more paternalistic approach that provides comprehensive relief on the issues on behalf of the consumers." Bennie sees this as a special challenge for U.S.-based global companies with operations and or customers in the EU. He puts it simply: "The dilemma we face is how do you manage your business when everyone is right and no one is wrong?"

Cynthia D. Waddell is the executive director of the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet and a member of the United States' IEEE Voting Equipment Standards Committee developing technical standards for voting machines. She believes the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) will be heavily involved in the presidential elections since it requires accessible voting-machine systems in every U.S. voting precinct.

Her forecast highlights how little most of us understand about the special privacy issues faced by voters with disabilities. "Imagine being blind and having to share your voting booth with a police officer, election-party representatives, or other officials to monitor your vote. Without audio voting features, the sacred vote was never secret for blind voters wishing to exercise their vote like everyone else at the polls. Also imagine having a mobility disability and not having fine motor control to use punch-card voting systems or the upper-body strength to use lever voting systems." Her concerns remind us of how significant privacy issues can be to our everyday lives.

Fran Maier, executive director of TrustE (the privacy seal program), forecasts that spam solutions will be a major privacy push this year. TrustE is deeply involved with the search for spam solutions. Fran believes that "the spam issue will continue to garner headlines and frustrate consumers, but I expect we will also see more news about effective anti-spam technologies, industry cooperation, and effective legislation. While most agree the federal CAN-SPAM law will not appreciably reduce the amount of spam in consumer's inboxes, ISPs, E-mail service providers, industry associations, and consumer groups have seriously begun dialogues focused on reducing fraud, phishing, and spoofing, and as well as developing standards for legitimate mails."

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