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What’s in a name (or Why Privacy Ref)

An important decision when starting a company is the name. Many people have asked me “why Privacy Ref?” There are actually four reasons the name was chosen.

Reason 1: I was a soccer referee

The first reason is that when the company was founded I was getting my exercise as a referee for youth soccer. I refereed from under 10 year-olds up through college students. I refereed local, in town matches up through state tournament matches in Massachusetts. Eventually I just could not out run the 14 year-olds, so I had to retire. It was a great experience allowing me to really appreciate the game.

One of my sons became a referee as well and we officiated matches together. Ben later joined me as my partner here at the Privacy Ref.

Reason 2: Referee or Reference

The next reason is that “Ref” can have multiple interpretations. Certainly it can be thought to mean referee. I thought was a reasonable interpretation for a consulting team providing opinions. Alternatively, it may be thought to mean “reference” another reasonable interpretation for a consulting team basing their opinions on fact.

Reason 3: Observation and recommendations

The opinions expressed by a soccer referee and a privacy office have a lot in common. Privacy offices ensure jurisdictional privacy laws are being complied with while soccer referees apply the laws of the game. Both privacy offices and referees observe behaviors and need to make decisions on how to move forward.

Referees have a split second to make these decisions, but, luckily, privacy offices have some time to think about things. The decisions and outcomes are essentially the same:

Play On!
  • Things are according happening in line with the laws, so do nothing;
  • There was some infringement of the laws but they don’t impact future behaviors, so “play on”;
  • There was an infringement of the rules that impacts future actions, so stop play, make a correction, and restart; and
  • There was a significant infringement of the rules or a dangerous behavior, so hold an individual responsible (get out those yellow and red cards!).

With this much in common, the name Privacy Ref made sense to me. There was, however, one more test.

Reason 4:

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