Privacy Professionals of the World, Unite!

Stanford Center for Internet and Society


But the name of the game is networking and meeting people from all avenues of the profession and every corner of the world. During the week, the main topic for discussion is “which dinner to go to”. Every day, participants must choose among numerous networking dinners, cocktails, lunches, even breakfasts (yes – networking at 7am!). ”Are you going to Google”? “Facebook”? “EY”? “DHS”? – that’s the question. And then there are the occasional conversations about the main topic for discussion – privacy. And what a topic it is. It seems that every year brings an exponential growth in cutting edge, exciting issues – online behavioral advertising, mobile apps, smart grid, personalized medicine, government surveillance, privacy and corporate governance, privacy and antitrust, and on and on.
I find the Deirdre Mulligan and Kenneth Bamberger paper, Privacy on the Books and on the Ground, eye opening in this respect. In what is surely one of the most important and influential papers on privacy over the past decade, the authors identify stark differences between the development of the profession on both sides of the Atlantic. Whereas in Europe, privacy has been imposed top-down by regulation and implemented by bureaucratic supervisory authorities, low-to-mid level functionaries (called Data Protection Officers; DPOs) in organizations, and outside counsel; in the US the practice grew bottom-up, absent a comprehensive privacy statute, but has become a senior level C-suite strategic function. What’s better? I leave it for the DC participants to discuss. 3/4/2011