Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

It's a Matter of Privacy

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

It's a Matter of Privacy

Article excerpt

Consumers have grown increasingly concerned about the misuse of their personal information, and regulatory bodies have been cracking down on offenders. You can see the many complaints filed against corporations on the FTC Web site at www.ftc.gov/privacy/privacyinitiatives/promises_enf.html. CPAs should advise clients or employers to familiarize themselves with U.S. privacy laws that protect consumers' interests (see "E-Mail and the Law," page 58) and to review their privacy policies to see whether they are adequate.

Here's a questionnaire you can use to help an entity conduct an initial risk assessment of its information-handling activities.

Understanding privacy

* What personal information about customers and employees does the organization collect and retain?

* What personal data are used in carrying out business, for example, in sales, marketing, fund raising and customer relations?

* What personal information is obtained from or disclosed to affiliates or third parties, for example, in payroll outsourcing?

* What is the impact of U.S. privacy laws and regulations and/or international privacy requirements on the company? (This may require a legal interpretation.)

* How does the organization's business plan address the privacy of personal information?

Implementing a privacy program

* To what degree is the company's senior management actively involved in the development, implementation and/or promotion of privacy measures within the organization?

* Has the entity assigned someone (for example, a chief privacy officer) the responsibility for compliance with privacy legislation? …

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