By Rafael Moscatel, Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM)
HEY BOSS, LOOKS LIKE PRIVACY IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL NOW
IAPP’s Privacy.Security.Risk. Conference 2019 took place in Las Vegas over four days at the end of September and was attended by more than 2000 attendees hailing from all over the United States as well as a number of countries. The Fortune 500 was well represented but I also met a number of other astute organizations and took a tour of the industry’s big vendors on the showroom floor. Although I live tweeted the event I’d been waiting to share my complete thoughts until after I passed my CIPM exam, which I did just a couple days ago. More on that later…
THE FIELD OF INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CONFERENCES GROWS MORE CROWDED
First, as a Certified Records Manager (CRM) and Information Governance Professional (IGP), I’ve been to and spoke at my share of conferences touching on best practices for information management, privacy, security and content. What made this one different? Well, besides how well the conference was organized and the venue, The Cosmopolitan, almost all of the workshops were just first rate, chalk full of real take home targeted content and timely. The vast majority of the presenters were seasoned and even the first-timers made the grade. Here we are on the heels of one of the biggest new privacy laws, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and these sessions were speaking directly to its attendees on how to take specific action and plan for additional state directives. The education aspect and sales piece blended well, with technology complementing best practices and not the other way around. And the conference also left me with a lot of questions…
DO WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN?
I didn’t attend the training sessions on the first two days but made it to the opening keynote by Former Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler who gave the audience a 30,000 foot view and shared thoughts from his new book, From Gutenberg to Google. A great way to set the tone for the conference and then it was followed up by Janelle Shane who focused on rudimentary examples of AI but didn’t really connect her topic that well to Privacy. Nonetheless, it was an interesting takeaway. However, my favorite keynote came in the form of a play by Sharyn Rothstein and directed by Seema Sueko entitled The Right To Be Forgotten. The play examined a concept that we find in Europe but which still hasn’t taken hold in the States. It follows the impact of a young man’s juvenile mistakes and how they follow him around as he gets older, impacting his reputation and his life.
IS THERE A PLACE FOR DIGITAL ETHICS?
I know a number of people who have been personally affected by the internet, both by their own doing and also unfairly, and so this was a terrific way of introducing these challenges to the audience. The problem was that the rest of the conference didn’t really touch on this topic because it was more focused on CCPA and the corporate aspects of privacy program implementation. That’s fine but it left me wondering if in the United States we’re really where we need to be on the privacy front. We seem to only be focused on the issue from a data protection standpoint rather than an ethical one, whereas GDPR and other parts of the world take a more holistic view. Yes, we have HIPAA and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) but it feels like many of our laws are still really about breaches and liability and not about the value of privacy.
The conundrum seems to be that while we’re moving, as industries, toward a business culture of privacy, our culture as a whole is moving in the opposite direction, away from arms length communication and behavior and towards oversharing and a lack of discrepancy. How do these two worlds exist? We know that hackers are now using personal information voluntarily shared with the world to design more sophisticated phishing attacks and deep fakes. We know that thieves use location and vacation information shared through social media to know when you’re home and plan robberies. And despite all of these controls supposedly put in place around the world, we continue to give more of our personal information away which ends up being held as ransome against our companies. Yes, we know we have to share this information to enjoy convenience and in many cases now, to simply survive and get daily errands completed, but it still feels like digital sisyphus. In the age of the personal brand, are there even any private people around anymore? What good is all of this data protection if society as a whole has given up on the ethics of privacy? Besides the play at the conference and some of the discussions around children’s privacy, I didn’t see much of a discussion here, but perhaps it wasn’t the venue. I recently had a discussion with noted Data Privacy Professor Anita Allen, who wrote the first casebook on privacy law, on these ethical aspects of privacy that will soon be available in my book, Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.
THE RISE OF THE MACHINES
So, full disclosure, I work with a few vendors in the privacy space but my thoughts on privacy vendors are not influenced by those relationships. I saw some amazing products at P.S.C.19. The products seem to be maturing and there is a lot of venture funding going into developing large enterprise scale platforms that do an A to Z job in addressing GDPR and CCPA. There are a couple big players in the business and the industry should be grateful for their sponsorship of conferences like this and generally moving the ball forward in terms of conversations around privacy.
What I’m seeing is a lot of enterprise product that is designed specifically for large organizations and a lot of file analysis, enterprise architecture and other similar companies trying to adapt their solutions to solve the problem. The problem is that the problem is constantly evolving and despite a pretty clear prescription in the CCPA legislation, I just don’t think one size fits all. Especially if you’re looking at a capital investment to check a compliance box that might be covered in a more strategic manner. Let me explain…
I had the pleasure of sitting with a team of folks from a major multinational and a peer and I questioned them about their approach to CCPA. It was pretty impressive. They had half a dozen folks attending the conference from a number of their offices. They had hired an industry leader to implement their program. So lots of investment, lots of buy in and it was proportional because their size makes them a natural target for a regulator. One of the more amusing partners in the group casually replied to me after I asked if they were ready by saying, “Yeah, but I’m going to be really pissed if we did all this work and don’t even get one request!” That’s of course what a lot of organizations realized following the GDPR where the flood of data subject requests turned out to be a trickle. So, despite their aversion to risk and likely thorough, appropriate strategy, I still wonder it it’s right for everybody. What about the companies with a smaller footprint and much smaller budget? Does it make sense to have an omnibus-like enterprise product, with dozens of API’s and infrastructure demands take over a section of your IT department?
WHAT ABOUT STRATEGY?
Here’s the truth about privacy programs and tools. There’s no silver bullet. Dumping a ton of money into an existing IT or Records Management program or hiring a team of half a dozen twenty-six year old MBA’s from one of the big four to turn your enterprise upside down (yes I’ve seen that) is not even close to a smart information governance strategy. Unfortunately this is the first time many organizations have had to take a close look at their information and records management programs. In many cases, especially with regulated industries, information management has played a role in meeting regulatory and audit demands but it wasn’t necessarily center stage the way it is now. Many companies have a retention schedule or policy but were probably over-retaining a lot of their data and not taking action on some of the other aspects of it like data classification until the privacy movement came along.
Privacy-centric records management is basically the ideal Information Governance project or initiative. That’s because to accomplish privacy goals, companies need to not simply revise policies, they need to holistically understand how those policies work with other areas of their business like data security and records management. Fortunately, a lot of the groundwork has already been in place at many organizations, specifically in Finance and Health, in order to integrate a privacy-centric framework. If it has been performed you should also complement it with a DPIA or Privacy Impact Assessment.
That said, how do you get the most value of the technology you implement? I think you do that by having the types of conversations that allow the best minds in your organization to become stakeIholders in the ultimate solution. Before you buy product, you need to survey your landscape. It may be that you need a privacy program and privacy protections for your consumers, employees and vendors but your data subject requests are not so cumbersome that you require an overhaul of your inventory and integrations.
Can you use an Enterprise Architecture and data mapping tool in concert with a separate data subject request tools instead of automating everything? Maybe. Consider the investment and time that might go into continuously monitoring a complicated, heavily API dependent and seldom-used privacy tool. Might that effort be better put into maintaining an EA tool that not only supports the mapping requirements of data privacy legislation but also supports other areas of the IT business? Don’t we want our organizations to be agile and be able to swap-in and swap-out tools as needed? Do we really want to tie an entire business process to one solution? Haven’t we learned anything from our legacy mainframe days? Remember how hard it was, and is, to untangle ourselves from those.
I’m not saying that an enterprise-wide product isn’t right for large organizations with a lot of risk and endpoint exposure. I just believe that companies need to consider the process as a whole and take their time building these programs. Although California may serve as the baseline, we still don’t know what the rest of the States will do or what the future brings.
BEING A NEWLY MINTED CIPM
I can’t comment on the substance of the exam as I’m prohibited to by the agreement I signed. What I can say is that like most designations the value I find is not necessarily in the certification as much as the legwork and study necessary to achieve it. The reward is in the knowledge you acquire along the way, not just the medal you get at the finish line. If you check out the publicly available study materials and Body of Knowledge (BOK) available on the IAPP site you’ll see that it looks very much like the protocol of other information management organizations.
My belief though is that this BOK is evolved precisely because it’s privacy-centric. It covers many areas familiar to IG and Data Privacy disciplines but it is much more a holistic model and prescription than I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the reasons I’m so impressed with the IAPP.
RACE JOURNEY BEGINS
I came back from meeting with data privacy officials and business people in Brussels in 2018 knowing that Privacy was going to change the world. It’s one of the reasons I decided to engage more fully in it professionally. I’ll be spending more time talking about my journey towards privacy and speaking about the CCPA and related issues over the coming months and in my new book which should be available early next year. The concept of privacy is not just important for data protection and to check a compliance box, it’s important because it affects the lives of our colleagues, our friends, our children, our parents and pretty much everything around us. We need to not only protect our data but we need to value it and teach others to value theirs and that’s what I’m dedicated to.
I’m available for consulting opportunities and interviews and would love to discuss your corporate challenges. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free two-hour workshop or just give me a buzz at 323-413-7432.