February 10, 2012

Churchill Club-Online Privacy Rules Revisited

by Cary J. Calderone

It has been one year since I covered a terrific Churchill Club event on this subject (Location and Privacy).  I was anxious to see what we have learned and what was new on the subject of online data privacy.   Unfortunately, the short answer is, "not much."  I really enjoy the Churchill Club events, but while this panel had members from various stages across the privacy spectrum, from the ACLU, to private companies like Microsoft (panel information below), it seemed like the discussion covered the same issues, with no new takeaways.   It was the first time I have ever been a little bit disappointed by a Chuchill Club event.   I was expecting a few new best practices for businesses but there really were none.  That said, if this was your first event about online privacy, you would have learned the major issues the government regulators, companies, and consumers, need to consider.
The main concerns still are focused on setting rules for disclosure of privacy in a way that means consumers, who still seldom read privacy policies, will give informed consent to how their information will be used, and by whom.  There was also an acknowledgment that the government regulators probably do not understand just how much information is collected and much more information can be gleaned from it.  The best suggestion, which had been voiced a year earlier was a rating system so online consumers would know their information was either, not collected, or, if it was collected, how it would be safely used and when it may be destroyed.

In conclusion, the main issue from a year ago still exists.  Consumers believe if a company has a "privacy policy" their information is private.  This is not so...

If you want to watch for yourself, the Churchill Club video is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dEmHZjRLrU

Jules Polonetsky, Co-chair and Director, Future of Privacy
Jim Adler, Chief Privacy Officer & General Manager, Data Systems, Intelius
Nick Bicanic, CEO and Founder, echoecho
Jules Cohen, Director of Online Privacy, Microsoft
Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California
Paul Schwartz, Faculty Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, UC Berkeley

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