Privacy in 2019, Moving Beyond Compliance and into Digital Ethics

With the rapidly moving privacy world and new spotlight on legal, regulatory and ethical considerations, we're thrilled to welcome privacy veteran Leigh Feldman, Managing Director & Head of US Privacy at Promontory Financial Group, an IBM Company, to weigh in as our guest author. JW Michaels VP of Legal, Lawrence Brown will be joining Leigh live at IAPP KnowledgeNet to continue the conversation on what to expect from organizations moving forward and discuss the skills/experiences candidates need to be ready to move into newly created privacy opportunities.

Privacy in 2019, Moving Beyond Compliance and into Digital Ethics

Privacy and the ethical use of personal information entered the forefront of public consciousness in 2018. With developments like the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act, as well as the emergence of new threats arising from the collection, use, and sharing of information, the challenges of data processing in today’s information age have never been more apparent.

As organizations continue their digital transformations and expand product and service offerings, those that have robust privacy programs and emphasize ethical data use will achieve greater returns on investments in new technologies, products, and services. The vastly increased penalties under GDPR and greater risk of reputational damage alter the privacy risk analysis, making privacy much more central to good business operations – beyond risk mitigation and regulatory compliance.

We expect organizations will face increasing market and compliance pressures to demonstrate ethical treatment of data as the public and regulators grow more sophisticated in their approach to data privacy issues. Ethical considerations move beyond what is legally or technically possible into questions of morality, bias, discrimination, human rights, and societal harms. The wider and deeper collection of data and deployment of more advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence will continue to be competitive advantages. However, the ability to optimize the collection, use, and sharing of personal information in an expected, appropriate, and ethical manner will emerge as a competitive advantage as well.

Organizations that can be effective and efficient on issues such as transparency, choice, risk assessments, cross-border data movement, and personal data management, including retention and deletion, will be able to more quickly launch new and modified products and processes. Organizations that have more mature privacy programs will be better positioned as trusted information stewards and to reap the economic rewards of the data age.

In response to these rapid changes in the privacy landscape, we believe organizations across multiple industries will need to establish new mechanisms to address emerging digital ethics issues brought about by new methods of collecting, using, and sharing personal information, broader public awareness, and increasing regulatory scrutiny. The result will be a shift in how organizations approach privacy. Beyond just legal compliance, organizations will begin to see their privacy programs as business competencies that must be matured to support customer expectations, innovation, and growth.

Leigh Feldman is a managing director at Promontory Financial Group, an IBM Company, where he leads the U.S. privacy practice within the firm’s global privacy and data protection practice group. Leigh has been in the privacy space for over 15 years, advising on all aspects of information collection, use, and sharing. He was previously the chief privacy officer at Citigroup, American Express and Bank of America, and chief privacy counsel at Merrill Lynch.

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