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Privacy is a Growth Market in Search of Leadership

John Berard

Within a single month, privacy has moved to the top of the "to-do" list for government, business and consumers. In fact, the confluence of activity is the best indication in the last ten years that the will exists to establish regulatory and self-governance programs that complement consumer protection. Privacy is a growth market.

As companies have come to see their consumers demand for better data use and protection, the investment in privacy policies and procedures has become a more visible element of product marketing. The urgency to make privacy a part of every corporate culture that can then be marketing to a skeptical public was evident at the latest summit of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Privacy is now a profession, not just a promise.

As government has come to see its role in consumer protection, there are new legislative initiatives that recognize the need to partner with business on privacy, not just dictate terms. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has offered such a next generation proposal. It is a consumer bill of rights, but one that strikes a balance among the important goals of protection, innovation and e-commerce.

As consumers and our surrogates awaken each day to news of another massive data breach, like the most recent at email marketing firm, Epsilon, we are uneasy about the potential loss — whether money, identity or movement on the Internet. We want our finances protected. We want our identity protected. But we don't want the cure to curtail our ability to take advantage of the access to the information, insight and amusement offered by the Internet.

The result will be new rules. That much is certain. Less clear is who will emerge as a leader. Will someone inside government map the new territory? Will someone from business innovate new solutions? Or will a consumer group or individual set the tone?

These questions highlight the opportunity for leadership and the benefits that will accrue. Here is one more: Who would you place in nomination?

By John Berard, Founder, Credible Context & CEO, Vox Populi Registry
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Related topics: Policy & Regulation, Privacy
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