The new urgency to fix online privacy

A decade ago, I started writing about online privacy issues. At the time, legal colleagues told me that while they found the topic interesting from an academic standpoint, it had no real world applications. They encouraged me instead to focus on “real” upcoming problems, like Y2K.
Undeterred, I explained that there would come a time when good privacy translated into good business, and bad privacy meant horrible business. That time has arrived.  Y2K came and went without much lasting effect. But privacy protection  has become a real world industry of its own. Unfortunately, privacy and security breaches regularly occur these days. Indeed, the recently concluded meeting of the International Association of Privacy Professionals in San Francisco bore witness to just how important privacy issues have become to businesses, government, educational institutions, and of course, individuals
With hundreds of privacy and security professionals in attendance, the sponsor list included the expected roster of companies from the technology sector. But you also found companies from outside the tech world, like Chevron, and Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The common theme: it’s high time to find privacy solutions that really work.
Privacy is like oxygen. You don’t normally pay attention but when it is gone, the problem is immediate and real. So it was that the conference hosted numerous breakout sessions over the course of three days, ranging across issues that arise in financial services, marketing, health care, retail, government, human resources, children, higher education, international, and technology.
{The greatest need for privacy protections and individual control of personal data is for the nation’s electronic health information. The conference the author mentions did not even discuss the total absence of health information privacy—probably because no one familiar with electronic data systems knows that Americans’ electronic health records and data are the least protected and most stolen electronic data of all. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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