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GENERALLY ACCEPTED PRIVACY PRINCIPLES SEEK TO CURTAIL IDENTITY THEFT

Source: Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

Posted on December 7, 2009

In light of a spike in identity theft and the frequency with which personal information is stored on portable devices, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) have expanded Generally Accepted Privacy Principles (GAPP) to include protocols for securing and disposing of personal information.

"Safeguarding personal information is one of the most challenging responsibilities facing an organization, whether such information pertains to employees or customers," said Everett C. Johnson, CPA, chair of AICPA/CICA Privacy Task Force and a past international president of ISACA, a global information technology association. "We've updated the criteria of our privacy principles to minimize the risks to personal information."

GAPP offers guidance and best practices on securing portable devices, breach management and ensuring continued effectiveness of privacy controls. The guidance additionally covers disposal and destruction of personal information. The principles are designed for chief privacy officers, executive management, compliance officers, legal counsel, CPAs and CAs offering technology advisory services.

"Portable tools such as laptops and memory sticks provide convenience to employees but appropriate measures must be put in place to secure them and the data they contain," said Donald Sheehy, CA•CISA, CIPP/C, associate partner with Deloitte (Canada) and a member of the AICPA/CICA Privacy Task Force. "We must stay abreast of technological advances to assure that proper measures are put into place to defend against any new threats."

Created by the AICPA/CICA Privacy Task Force, GAPP is designed to help an organization's management team assess an existing privacy program or address privacy obligations and risks. The principles provide a framework for CPAs and CAs to offer privacy services to their clients and employers, such as advisory services, privacy risk assessments and attestation or audits. Introduced in 2003, GAPP was previously updated in 2006.

Several organizations worked in conjunction with the AICPA and CICA on GAPP, including ISACA and the Institute of Internal Auditors. It is available in two versions, one for business management and one for CPAs and CAs in public practice who provide consulting and attestation/audit services.

The mission of the Privacy Task Force is to examine the role CPAs and CAs can play in advising clients and employers about privacy issues and risks and to create a benchmark for good privacy practices. Free copies of GAPP along with additional privacy resources are available at http://www.aicpa.org/privacy and http://www.cica.ca/privacy.




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