Most of us already understand that having a full spectrum of privacy protections in place for our business is one of our most important responsibilities, but not everyone understands the full scope of what privacy actually means for a business.

Privacy for business extends far beyond protecting a client’s sensitive data or making sure our IT systems are in compliance with our stated privacy policies. In fact, privacy in business encompasses far more than this and it should be the task of every organization, whether high-tech or low, small to muti-national, to understand what privacy means. To aid in this discussion, the use of an article for analysis from CIO magazine entitled, “Privacy is Your Business” by Susannah Patton will be discussed.

The article “Privacy is Your Business” from CIO magazine discusses the benefits for companies making privacy one of their top priorities. For those organizations who are “privacy champions” better business and security can help build a more successful company. To highlight this point, the article examines the case of JetBlue Airways, who experienced a privacy issue that significantly damaged their company profile when they released private information about their customers to the Department of Defense. While it might have been for a noble cause, IT was never informed of this decision and as a result, it was too late when the company (and its customers) realized there had been a breech of their privacy policy. In the end, not only did the company deal with an irrevocable loss of trust with its customers and the public, but was involved in a multi-million dollars class-action lawsuit.

According to the article “Privacy is Your Business” by Susannah Patton, “one of the lessons learned is that CIOs would be wise to play a more central role in the shaping and enforcing of data privacy policies.” In other words, the main purpose of this article is to stress the importance of the CIO in overseeing data and how it is both stored and used. With this in mind, CIOs must make privacy their number one priority and rethink the way they tell consumers about their policies-both for their sake and the sake of the company.

After relating this “cautionary tale” about the pitfalls of not being a privacy champion, the article shifts its focus to give a short history of how data has been collected and used in the past. Several figures are given that reinforce the amount of personal consumer data that exists and in conjunction, more figures are given that discuss the way businesses have responded to this data and increasingly stringent statutes in a number of states. The article shifts again to discuss the company Vanguard and holds it up as a model for successful privacy management. By having a firm leadership system in place as well as a number of controls on data access through a classification system, this company is what the article terms a “privacy champion.” The article closes with more warnings about knowing the laws and how to become a better manager of data.

The article “Privacy is Your Business” by Susannah Patton can be found here.

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