Business imperative: Privacy by default

Business imperative: Privacy by default

Brendon Lynch, Microsoft's chief privacy officer, urges enterprises to embark on a comprehensive approach to manage privacy implications from the rise of big data and advances in technology.

Brendon Lynch, Microsoft's chief privacy officer, urges enterprises to embark on a comprehensive approach to manage privacy implications from the rise of big data and advances in technology."The use of information is going to be a strategic asset for the organisation and privacy is going to be important," says Lynch, who was originally from Paeroa and is now based in Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond.

His message to executive teams is that privacy is increasingly becoming important to business success and the issue is not going to go away. "Privacy is important to the deployment of any IT system," he says.

"If they don't have senior leadership attention and they don't have a comprehensive approach to privacy, they should be thinking about that now."Organisations need to have a multi-disciplinary team partnering with marketing, legal, IT and security to have this "broad view" on privacy, says Lynch, who has a business degree in information systems from the University of Waikato.

The leadership for these teams will depend on the industry. In some organisations, particularly in highly regulated industries, it is part of the legal function. For online retailers, it may be marketing, he says.He says Microsoft has 40 full-time privacy professionals and about 400 more across the globe with privacy as part of their role. He says trends that will have implications on privacy that enterprises should consider are the rise of ubiquitous computing, big data and personalised experiences.

"More and more things are connected to each other so that is an area that we need to ensure we handle privacy correctly," he says. A related issue is the growing number of gadgets with natural user interface, with voice and gesture based interactions. "There is a need to ensure we bring those advances in a way that is also privacy protected."

Big data is another concept that is impacting privacy as and more information is generated in digital form. "We expect data to be a big driver of innovation, he says. "How can we apply [that] to these databases to ensure that they are not providing the ability to be identified down to a person level?"Lynch has served on the Certification Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and has seen its membership grow from 50 to 800 in the last 10 years.

People involved in privacy come from a range of different perspectives, he explains. Increasingly, security professionals are joining the group because privacy involves not only about protection of information but appropriate collection and use of information.Lynch got into the role following a career in quality management, starting at the East Tamaki Dairy Company that is now part of Fonterra.

He then worked overseas at Coopers and Lybrand, and this led to work in risk management and compliant consulting practices.When the company was merged into PwC, he was looking at emerging new practice areas and began researching on privacy.

He moved to Microsoft in 2004 to join the privacy team and took on his current role nearly two years ago.

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