Privacy Awareness Week 2012 runs from April 29 to May 5. This event was first jointly promoted internationally in 2007 by members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum (APPA). Today, many countries around the world– including Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Korea, the United States of America and, of course, Canada — recognize Privacy Awareness Week by promoting awareness of privacy rights and responsibilities in the community.
Privacy Awareness Week is an opportune time to consider what it means to build a culture that respects and protects privacy rights of individuals. A recent publication of the Federal, British Columbia and Alberta Privacy Commissioners does just that. Although developed primarily with private sector organizations in mind, Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program also provides useful guidance for public bodies.
The basic building blocks of any privacy management program are the same regardless of sector, and are essential to successfully managing and protecting personal information – particularly in today’s world where information flows around the globe, is shared between the public, private and health sectors, and as technology innovations become even more ubiquitous. Ensuring a solid privacy management foundation becomes even more important as access and privacy professionals strive to meet these ever-present and increasing challenges.
It will be no surprise to anyone that the building blocks of a sound privacy management program start with organizational commitment. That commitment is manifested through senior management support for the privacy program, clearly defined roles and responsibilities for access and privacy professionals, and an organizational structure that supports privacy professionals and ensures they are appropriately involved in decision-making processes.
Organizational commitment to privacy can be difficult to achieve – particularly when other priorities appear to be in conflict. Protecting privacy is more than a matter of legislative compliance, however; it is essential to building public trust. In this regard, the role of privacy professionals in promoting awareness of privacy issues and rights is of fundamental importance, and deserving of acknowledgment and thanks.
For more information, visit privacywarenessweek.org and www.oipc.ab.ca.