Access to personal data and how it's handled has always been a sensitive issue, but the development of the Internet has heightened concern. Yet, information is the lifeblood of the modern economy. The question is how businesses can recognize the individual's right to privacy while retaining the ability to collect and use information intelligently.
YOU HAVE NO PRIVACY anymore," said Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy. "Get over it." But few are willing to leave it at that. Different views and laws covering privacy rights are generating heat on both sides of the Atlantic. Governments of European Union nations have enacted restrictions on data transmission and content on Internet Web sites, whereas the U.S. is often conflicted about privacy vs. free speech.
The battle over privacy will likely play out over two rounds, according to Forrester Research, which has studied the issue. An initial round of legislation focused on Web sites will be passed next year; the issue will go into remission for a year or two after that followed by a second, broader round of legislation in 2005. The legislation will require all companies to post information practices, with the FTC retaining authority to take action against those that don't comply. It will almost certainly require consent for the sharing of data. What's less clear is whether industry lobbying will defeat measures requiring companies to provide consumers with access to the information collected about them.
In the following roundtable conducted in partnership with Acxiom, a Little Rock, AR, data integration services firm, CE gathered CEOs and CPOs (chief privacy officers) from Internet, software, marketing, retail, medical, security, banking, and insurance industries to examine the impact of privacy concerns on the flow of information and how businesses can get ahead of the curve. The discussion centered on ways companies can prepare to honor customer concerns and to what degree technology can help compliance. Acxiom CEO Charles D. Morgan and the Privacy Council's Gary Clayton mapped a six-point manifesto that companies may consider adopting as a working privacy philosophy.
Here's Looking at Everybody
That looked pretty awful until I learned that two years ago, only 1,400 even posted the policy on privacy at all. …