From IBMPrivacy

Whatever your career discipline, chances are excellent that there is a professional or networking group that serves it. No surprise, then, that the same is true for those of us who consider ourselves privacy professionals. I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of the professional associations in privacy and to talk about why they are so important.

First — why join such a group? After all, there are many sources of information available via the Web and other sources these days at low or no cost, and travel budgets get slimmer every year. But I would argue that nothing can replace joining a group of colleagues who face challenges similar to yours.

Even if the connections made are virtual, engaging in projects to share and build your knowledge and networks can help you perform your current role with more insight and excellence, even while helping you understand what it will take to progress in your own career. And as you become more expert, such groups allow you to “give back” to the profession and to society—an aspect which I find especially meaningful in an area such as privacy and data protection (and why a group of us have been involved in piloting a new Pro Bono Privacy Initiative).

Privacy as a profession is a young field. At the first privacy conference I attended—in the mid 1990s – most of the participants were either government officials or lobbyists. By the year 2000, a small group of us — who had been recently appointed to privacy-related roles in our own companies – had decided to create a group focused on supporting helping us grow as professionals. From an initial membership of a few dozen, that group became the International Association of Privacy Professionals, who membership is now at the 10,000 mark and whose annual “must-attend” Summit is coming up in a few weeks in Washington D.C.  I am proud to have been a founding board member of IAPP, and to have seen it thrive under the exceptional leadership of Trevor Hughes.

From its inception, the IAPP aimed to serve an international membership, and it has grown substantially in Canada  and Europe in addition to the United States – there is even an Australia/New Zealand chapter.

There are even more opportunities to join with like-minded colleagues. In Europe there are multiple national-level associations, for example in GermanySpainthe Netherlandsand France.

Mrs. Falque-Pierrotin, after speaking to the AFCDP.

These groups are quite active. For example, my colleagues at IBM France were pleased to host the recent annual conference of the Association Française des Correspondants à la Protection des Données à Caractère Personnel, or AFCDP.

Since its inception on 2006, participation in the AFCDP has grown from 50 to over 300 privacy professionals. Reflecting the growth both of the AFCDP and the importance of data privacy worldwide, speakers at the event included Mrs. Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the newly appointed President of the French Data Protection Authorityand David Smith, Deputy Commissioner of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.

Patrick Labeyrie and David Smith

Patrick Labeyrie and David Smith

Reports Patrick Labeyrie, IBM France/Benelux Data Protection Officer, “The annual AFCDP meeting is always an excellent opportunity for data privacy professionals to network and discuss the latest developments, and this year’s meeting had an additional focus on the newly released EU Data Protection Regulation draft. The morning session featured a number of speeches, roundtable discussions and presentations. The afternoon session was dedicated to a wide variety of workshops, including e-voting, whistle blowing, biometrics and privacy behavioral tracking, corporate use of social networking software, Privacy by Re-Design, and many others.”

What other groups would you recommend for privacy professionals?