Privacy Ref Blog

Three privacy thoughts to start 2016

Over the past few days I have been pondering everything that has happened in privacy in 2015 and the impact on organizations. My intent was to write a retrospective blog entry, but this morning I decided to look ahead and not in the rear-view mirror. So here are three thoughts to kickoff 2016.

Organizations of all sizes are getting more serious about privacy

As we hold discussions with our clients and in the IAPP classes I facilitate, it is becoming more apparent that organizations are getting increasingly serious about protecting personal information. It is not just the large enterprises, but interest is increasing within SMBs. Driving this interest seems to be two factors: increased accountability in the boardroom and executive suite plus increased customer awareness.

However, SMBs often find it a challenge to allocate the resources, both human and financial, to establish an adequate privacy program. To be frank, I often find that the privacy programs in large enterprises have these same challenges. Those accountable for privacy for their organizations must find engaging, cost effective ways to ensure that the remainder of the staff understand their privacy responsibilities.

In 2016 Privacy Ref will be continue to offer solutions to assist these organizations.

Executive education remains key to success for a privacy program

One question I frequently ask clients and ask in the classes I facilitate is “Have your executives received privacy training?” The answer is usually a resounding “No!”

A tenet for establishing a privacy program is that executive support is a requirement for the success of a privacy program. If the executive team, or at least the executive sponsor, has not received training to understand basic privacy concepts, statutory requirements, and best practices, it will be difficult for the privacy owner to obtain meaningful support for a program.

At Privacy Ref we advocate that executives receive at least a one hour, focused privacy training or update each year. This is not the training every staff member should receive each year, but training that is tailored to be meaningful and actionable for the executives attending. We have witnessed a significant difference in the support and success of privacy programs when executives’ privacy knowledge and awareness is increased.

Staff awareness prevents data breaches

Every year there are several studies that delve into the causes of a data breach. Staff making mistakes, human error, in following procedures or creating new procedures remains a major contributing factor. While annual training helps, an on-going awareness program must be in place to support the training to keep privacy top-of-mind.

For example, consider utilizing the basic principles of Privacy by Design as part of your awareness effort. Privacy Ref has worked with our clients to establish checklists, rooted in PbD, for development teams to follow when creating new applications or business processes. These checklists not only increase the privacy awareness of and guide a development team, but serve as a core artifact for Privacy Impact Assessments.


As we enter 2016 the privacy landscape continues to change and the challenges for a privacy professional continue to increase. Privacy professionals need to continue to find easy to understand, easy to implement, easy to integrate approaches for their organizations to meet these privacy challenges.

Privacy Ref provides consulting and assessment services to build and improve organizational privacy programs. For more information call Privacy Ref at (888) 470-1528 or email us at

Posted on December 31, 2015 by Bob Siegel
Tags: , ,

« »

No Responses

Comments are closed.

« »

Subscribe to our mailing list

Please fill out the form below.


Want to find out more?

Simply go to the contact page, fill out the form, and someone from Privacy Ref will be in touch with you. You can also send an email to or call (888) 470-1528.


August 19, 2016

New Offering for Adaptive Privacy
Privacy Ref is now offering the Adaptive Privacy Office. This offering allows you to utilize the services you need to bring your program to the next level. Read more about the offering here.

Latest Blog Posts

October 14, 2016

Facebook knows a lot
A few weeks ago, I was auditing a CIPP/US class that Bob Siegel was teaching on behalf of the IAPP.  Someone brought up the idea of openness and allowing individuals access to the data you have about them.  At this point, Bob discussed the principles behind this, such as how the OECD Guidelines approach it.  Bob also mentioned that under GDPR (and the EU Privacy Directive) a user should be able to see and correct information an organization has about them. Bob then mentioned it would be interesting to see what would happen if I asked a company about what data they had about me.  I immediately thought of Facebook. Continue reading this post...

July 25, 2016

Social Engineering is a Massive Problem
Recently, a large number of YouTubers and other celebrities have been “hacked” or lost control of their accounts.  The truth of the matter is that they aren’t being hacked, but instead the person taking control of these accounts is just having others do it for them.  The people and groups helping them are not who you think.  They are not hackers, black market data dealers, or even criminals, but they are customer service representatives and other professionals who are meant to protect your data. Continue reading this post...

Other Recent Posts