The Emergence of the Chief Privacy Officer - Page 5

Oct 15, 2000

- Staff

o minimize it. The CPO, on the other hand, wants to make sure that interaction is transparent, clear, and fair and that consumers have choices," Polonetsky says. The overriding reason for separating the two positions, however, is a practical one. "Companies may have technologists who understand the underlying infrastructure, lawyers who know the law, and marketing and communications people who can talk to the public, but rarely is there somebody positioned to have a broad sense of how those issues interact," Polonetsky says.

The position of CPO has its own unique set of challenges: maintaining employee awareness of legal and moral obligations, gaining consensus among partners, staying abreast of new technologies and the law, and communicating with the public and the press.

Above all, however, the CPO must be an advocate for the consumer within the company. "A consumer who is surprised, irritated, or annoyed is not going to be a consumer for long," says Polonetsky.

The prospect of losing customers is the ultimate motivator behind the CPO trend. By establishing the position of corporate CPO, companies can gain consumer confidence, establish a competitive edge, and develop a strong voice in the ongoing public debate about privacy.


Eva Marer is a freelance business and technology journalist based in New York City.

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