Consumer Privacy: Execs Go To School, Bill Reintroduced

Government regulation of consumer privacy got a boost Monday when Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., reintroduced a bill that would give consumers more control over the use of their personal data. The private sector, however, is opting for self-regulation by having execs attend a university privacy-management program.

The bill, which was proposed in October, would mandate that businesses prevent unauthorized use of consumer data and let consumers view and edit identifying information the company has collected.

Government regulation seems inevitable, says Andrew Shen, an analyst with the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. Companies have been given time to regulate themselves and address privacy issues, Shen says, but "consumer confidence isn't rising."

In an attempt to educate execs on ever-changing privacy legislation, the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University and Privacy Council, a consulting firm and software maker, have developed a three-day seminar targeting chief privacy officers. "There has to be balance between businesses turning profits and consumer protection," says Victoria Krikorian, program director at the Cox School of Business. "The course is designed to make senior execs aware of legislation, ensuring consumer protection and reaching balance between business needs and consumer rights to privacy."

Gary Clayton, CEO of Privacy Council, and Kevin Turner, a Privacy Council VP, will teach the seminar. The first session will be March 13-15, and the second program will be July 17-19.

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