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The Privacy Debate Continues...

An expert speaks out about the importance of privacy policies and data security.

Having privacy and data security policies in place before you go online is critical to managing potential issues down the road. Jerry Johnson, senior vice president of issues management at global technology PR agency Brodeur Worldwide, offers his tips for "positive positioning in the privacy debate."

  • Make your privacy policy and data security a part of your daily business operations. Be sure that within your organization there are clear lines of responsibility for the implementation and maintenance of your company's privacy policies. E-commerce companies need both a policy and a process to monitor how well privacy policies are being enforced. Companies must also adapt those policies as new industry standards are developed.
  • Establish a de-facto chief privacy officer (CPO). Whether in name or function, companies involved in e-commerce should have a central point of contact for all privacy matters. According to the recently established Association of Corporate Privacy Officers, a CPO should wear many hats, from being a privacy policymaker, watchdog and enforcer to being an advisor to the CEO and a customer ombudsman. A CPO should also be concerned about how a privacy policy can enhance a brand.
  • Know how to communicate your privacy policy, both internally and externally. Make sure your company's privacy policies are not only understood by top management but throughout the entire organization. See that management is given the proper tools so policies are enforced. Don't assume that because your privacy policies are the "industry standard" they'll pass muster with customers and the media.
  • Know the privacy and data policies of your partners. Your privacy policies may be terrific, but what about those of your business, distribution and marketing partners? Increasingly, companies are being held liable for the privacy policies of their vendors and business partners.

Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books). She is currently working on her next book and new company.

Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, e-entrepreneur and author of eight books, including

PowerTools for Women in Business.

Her work can be found at mediaegg.com.

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