Maturity and Metrics: A few thoughts from the IAPP’s Privacy Summit 2010

With a case of the volcano blues, I found myself at the International Association of Privacy Professionals Privacy Summit 2010. As I sat in sessions and caught up with customers at this, the largest gathering of its kind, I noticed an undercurrent to the overall conversation. This undercurrent sounded, in some sense, very similar to conversations I have with my identity management customers regarding maturity and metrics.

Privacy has moved beyond the compliance officer and is receiving better representation in business operations. Example of this include an increased presence of privacy practices in

  • project and software development lifecycles
  • procurement and contracting processes especially with respect to procurement 3rd party services

In some sense this has given privacy, and its closely aligned peer – data protection, more of an outward appearance of risk management than compliance. This is evidence of privacy’s maturation.

But as privacy matures, as privacy is seen for its risk management capabilities, as privacy gets more engrained in business operations, better metrics relating to privacy are needed.

I sat in one session in which privacy professionals talked about the challenges of building dashboards to display privacy metrics. Few could point to meaningful dashboards that they had built. Fewer still felt they had a clear handle on what kinds of questions they should be answering and how they should measure to do so. This challenge relating to measuring privacy lines up with recent research I published on policy governance.

As demonstrated by the size of this year’s Privacy Summit, it is clear to see the privacy profession is growing. The questions and nuanced challenges privacy professionals raised during the week are further evidence of privacy’s maturation. Privacy professionals are searching for more metric-driven ways to represent their efforts and programs especially as they work with their business partners. The results of this search for more tangible things to measure is part of the growing pains of privacy that the industry must endure.

Two Bonuses for Privacy Professionals

There are plenty of reasons to come to Catalyst. Engaging workshops, great sessions, interesting speakers, the chance to see the entire Identity and Privacy Strategies team on stage with bags on their heads –  you know, the kinds of thing you’d expect.  For those of you with a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) certification, this year we’ve a little something extra for you – continuing education credits. By attending IdPS’ Privacy Risks Get Realtrack, you’ll earn 3.5 hours of continuing privacy education (CPE) credit. Attend SRMS’ Risk Management: Programs You Can’t Afford to Cut and receive another 3.5 hours of credit.

And here’s a second bonus: we are making it easier than ever for you privacy professionals out there who haven’t attended a Catalyst before to attend this year. By registering with promo code IAPP, you’ll be able to attend the conference at $300 off the Early Bird rate.  See you in July!

(Cross-posted from Burton Group’s Identity blog.)

International Privacy Day: Synchronicity

Today is International Privacy Day (and also National Data Privacy Day here in the USA and maybe where you are too).  The day is set aside to celebrate the anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection.  Put on your reading list for today both the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data as well as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.

 It’s also, felicitously, the end of the quarter for us here Burton Group, which means that we are trying to wrap up the final edits of our reports and send them off for peer review.  This quarter Bob Blakley and I have been researching privacy.  We’ve talked to a variety of different kinds of companies of all sizes in many industries, and we’ve come away with a lot of lessons.

 Two of these lessons are that privacy is deeply contextual, and that this contextual nature prevents privacy from being easily defined.  Without a strict definition, though, how does an enterprise privacy team proceed?  Can you write policies concerning something which means one thing in one setting and something different in another?  It turns out, we think, that you can.


 I practice martial arts.  Every martial art has a set of principles.  Though these principles may differ, their use is the same.  Principles guide practice.  You practice your art in multiple contexts to prepare you for whatever may come.  In each of those contextualized situations, your principles guide your response.  (Synchronicity moment number one).

 My friend Julie is one of the most amazing corporate and brand marketers I have ever met.  She uses a simple approach in building overall market strategies and brands: identify true corporate values (principles), then let those values lead you to tangible market strategies.  Corporate values guide the formation of market strategies.  (Synchronicity moment number two).

 In our forthcoming report, Bob and I examine sets of privacy principles, but we also look at the ways in which these principles can drive real practice.  We discuss the characteristics and activities of effective privacy teams, too.  In building our report, Bob and I used (self-referentially) this method of letting principles drive practice. We built the report by starting with what we are referring to as Burton Group’s “Golden Rule of Privacy” and let the Golden Rule guide our writing.  You’ll have to wait a bit for the full report (unless you want to be a pre-publication reviewer, in which case please drop me a line!), but I’ll share the Golden Rule with you now:

We protect privacy when we consider the dignity of individuals about whom we know things, and when we use what we know about them only in ways which preserves and enhances that dignity.

 Happy International Privacy Day!  And for those of you attending the IAPP’s Privacy After Hours event tonight in Washington DC, I’ll see you there.

(Cross-posted from Burton Group’s Identity blog.)