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Protect Your Privacy in the Information Age

May 27, 2009

Robert Brownstone, Law & Technology Director at Fenwick & West, was the featured guest during the hour-long KUCI radio show Protect Your Privacy in the Information Age.

Every organization can benefit from a set of compliance policies and procedures in place to manage sensitive information and employees' communications. Brownstone, described as the "Guru of Metadata" by radio show host Mari Frank, mentioned that every employer should strongly consider implementing these three programs: a confidentiality policy on the importance of keeping sensitive company, customer and staff information confidential and secure; an acceptable use policy detailing how employees should and should not use company-provided technology; and metadata-scrubbing software that will act as a gatekeeper for emails being sent with attachments.

To implement an effective compliance program, companies need to remember the three e's: establish, educate and enforce. Establishing the contours of confidentiality and privacy policies should be based in part upon a company's industry, size and optimum security level. Assessing these considerations before writing up a policy best enables the company to manage risk and avoid possible litigation. Education is the key step to implementing a policy; employees will take ownership of their information and communications via company-provided technology if they understand the privacy issues behind the policy. Lastly, company-wide enforcement of these policies can be buttressed by technology tools. Consistent enforcement protects information and the company itself from an employee claiming they were not aware of the privacy rules.

No matter what size, every business has sensitive information that deserves protection, Brownstone stresses. To protect information ranging from trade secrets to customers' confidences and identifying information to employees' health records, written policies, people-based processes and encryption software are necessary tools in this day and age.

To listen to the KUCI interview in its entirety, click here.