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RSA: Businesses warned privacy becoming killer issue

27 Feb 2013

The lack of appropriate privacy policy can hurt businesses on multiple fronts, according to International Association of Privacy Professionals chief executive Trevor Hughes.

During his presentation at this year's RSA conference, Hughes discussed the risks inherent in underdeveloped privacy policies. Hughes said that companies that refuse to nail down privacy policies face threats from law enforcement, consumers, and competitors.

"Violate privacy and you get killed," Hughes told delegates.

According to Hughes, regulators are increasing their push to punish companies that neglect privacy laws. He said that regulators view enforcement of regulations as a way to make an example to the industry.

"One bad apple and regulators can use them as an example for the rest of the industry," continued Hughes.

Hughes pointed to the recent push by California's attorney general to crack down on mobile app privacy polices as an example of the recent governmental focus on privacy issues.

While regulators continue to create laws to enforce better privacy, Hughes says that no one law will totally address outstanding privacy issues. He argued the issue of privacy is here to stay for the long haul.

"At the end of the day there is no single law to fix privacy, there is no silver bullet. This will be an ongoing issue for all of my life time for all of children's lifetime," said Hughes.

Along with regulators and consumers, Hughes says the competition is also starting to capitalise on competitor's privacy woes. He highlighted the recent Scroogle campaign from Microsoft - which sought to undermine Google's privacy record - to illustrate the competitive advantage gained from a strong privacy policy.

"Privacy increasingly will become a competition differential. If your privacy polices are outdated your competitors will use that against you," added Hughes.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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