Magazine article Information Today

Protecting Customer Privacy

Magazine article Information Today

Protecting Customer Privacy

Article excerpt

Privacy--it's getting tougher to maintain, as is evidenced by the rise of identity theft. In fact, a growing number of Americans are making demands on corporate America to treat their personal information with secrecy.

According to a Harris Poll sponsored by Microsoft, 60% of Americans said they've decided not to support a store because of doubts about the store's privacy protections. What is surprising is that it isn't just marketers who are trying to access personal information. The government has drafted private industry for "data collection duty" in the war on terror.

So how can businesses keep customers' personal information under wraps when the USA PATRIOT Act allows the government to collect this sort of information? Jacqueline Klosek, an attorney and author of the new book The War on Privacy advises clients on issues related to data privacy and security. As a certified information privacy professional, Klosek believes private industry faces a precarious balance, trying to simultaneously maintain consumer privacy while also complying with governmental demands for information.

"This issue is not going to just disappear," says Klosek. "The war on terror has reduced privacy rights in the United States and around the world. The bottom line is whether the feds are leaning on your company for records or you've suffered a security breach by hackers, your reputation is at stake and you've lost your customers' trust."

Klosek is a senior counsel in the business law department of Goodwin Procter LLP, where she practices in the intellectual property practice area. She is also the author of two other books: The Legal Guide to e-Business and Data Privacy in the Information Age. As a certified information privacy professional, she serves on the advisory board for "The Privacy Advisor" of the International Association of Privacy Professionals and is the co-chair of the international working group of that organization. Her credentials also include being an active member of the American Bar Association, the International Bar Association, and the International Association of Young Lawyers.

Klosek routinely advises businesses to follow all privacy measures required by law. In addition to these measures, she offers her clients the following tips:

1. Conduct an internal audit: Before you can inform your consumers about your privacy policies and practices, you must first understand what they are. Businesses should conduct an internal audit to understand what data they are collecting, how they are using that data, with whom they are sharing that data, how that data is being protected, and related issues. …

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