Accountability and privacy

By: Karen Zacharia
Chief Privacy Officer

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Accountability. What comes to mind when I think about that concept?  Responsibility.  Answerability.  Accounting for my actions.  How does this translate to the privacy context for a company?  When implementing privacy protections, companies should not only adopt good privacy practices, but also should explain and demonstrate how they are protecting consumers.  

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is holding two days of privacy hearings on April 9 and 10th and I am looking forward to my panel discussion on “accountability” since I spend a significant amount of time thinking about these issues.

At Verizon, we map our privacy practices not only to legal requirements, but also to policies that we’ve developed, such as our externally facing privacy policy and internal policies such as those that address how we conduct risk assessments, how we control internal access to data, how we safeguard our customers’ information, and how we train our employees to ensure that our practices are in fact implemented.

An important element of accountability is executive oversight, and I am proud that privacy is top of mind in our C-Suite.  We see privacy as an essential component of consumer trust and it is part of our commitment to being a socially responsible company. Our 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility report highlights privacy as a significant company priority.

The discussions that will be taking place at the FTC are not happening in a vacuum. The call for Federal privacy legislation has never been louder, and we have previously explained why it is so important for Congress to pass strong privacy legislation. The FTC’s workshops can help inform how Congress can best embody critical privacy concepts in a federal law, including “accountability” requirements.   

I look forward to contributing to the conversation this week at the FTC, and to continuing to engage in conversations about how the United States can develop a strong privacy law that will provide uniform protections across industries and across the country. 

About the author:

Karen Zacharia is the Chief Privacy Officer at Verizon Communications.

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