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CPO SURVEY REVEALS CORPORATIONS TAKING PRIVACY SERIOUSLY

Source: Privacy Exchange

Posted on February 12, 2002

      The first results from an October 2001 survey of corporate privacy officers (CPOs) show that CPOs tend to have experience, qualifications and access. The survey was developed by Professor Alan Westin and commissioned by Privacy & American Business for the Association of Corporate Privacy Officers (ACPO) -- which has since merged with the Privacy Officers Association (POA) to form the International Association of Privacy Officers (IAPO).

      The survey was sponsored by Privacy Council and Guardent. Two-thirds of the CPOs in the survey reported having more than 11 years of experience as businessmen, and almost 80% had experience in privacy-related functions. More than half said they were paid in excess of $100,000 per year. Also, the overwhelming majority, 82%, said they report directly to senior management.

      "This is the first real evidence of a trend to institutionalize privacy policies and practices in American corporations," said survey director Westin, a professor emeritus of public law and government at Columbia University and president of the Center for Social & Legal Research. "And that's an important sign that privacy is really beginning to matter. Because the only way that a policy takes real effect and is followed on a more-than-haphazard basis by an organization is if it is institutionalized."

      Westin puts the likely total of privacy officers at over 500, with the figure rising to 1,000 if those with significant responsibilities beyond privacy are included. The new prominence of the CPO is a sign that many companies see the issue of privacy in a wider context than just compliance, said Brent Saunders, an attorney and privacy consultant and a founding Director, along with Westin, of the IAPO. "In my opinion, companies that see privacy as a market differentiator, as a way of getting and keeping customers, place their privacy officers higher within the organization," said Saunders.

      Westin believes the growth of CPOs is also tied to the growing importance of privacy to consumers. "If [consumers] decide to patronize a company or not based on its privacy practices, then we'll know that privacy has arrived."




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