The New G-Men (or Should I Say G-Women) of Privacy
Digital Privacy is a big deal and with the US elections behind us, we can get on with the business at hand – finalizing standards and regulation (or the enforcement thereof) that protect our basic rights to know who is collecting and using our data, how it’s being used AND having greater choice over who and how it is collected.
While it’s easy to bash our respective governments, I’d like to call out three government agencies, and the women that lead them, that truly seem to have their citizens’ best interests at heart and are a good use of our taxpayer dollars: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the European Commission (EU) and the Information Privacy Commissioner, Ontario Canada. All have been active proponents of increasing transparency, accountability and consumer choice relative to digital data sharing and usage and are encouraging privacy by design principles.
While I have not personally met EU Commission Vice President, Neelie Kroes, her statements on privacy are thoughtful and to the point. She is doing her job, which is to protect the privacy of EU citizens and ensure recent privacy laws are enforced. This does not mean killing business, but it does mean that businesses are not “more equal” than citizens, just because they have more people or money and speak louder. As with the FTC, the EU Commission team is open and responsive to enquiries and connecting interested parties whose businesses and lives are affected by the recent privacy regulations.
Lastly, Ontario Information Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, PhD, and her staff have been equally active in promoting the Privacy by Design concept throughout North American and Europe. They actively reach out to organizations interested in setting new standards in privacy-centric web and app development and have a wonderful Privacy Ambassadors program for individuals and organizations who proactively promote the need for privacy within their field and utilize privacy by design principals within their organization’s development efforts. (I’m pleased to say my partner, Peter Cranstone has been named a Privacy Ambassador).
Based upon my personal experience, these three agencies, their leaders and their staff actually do something to serve their citizens and protect those rights deemed important by the different countries they represent. Thank you!