Happy Data Privacy Day 2011, everyone! I hope you’ve gotten to participate in interesting events or taken the opportunity to think more about privacy and where we’re going.
The past month or so has been somewhat thought-provoking for me in terms of realizing that as much as privacy advocates condemn, complain, and push for privacy protection, we may not do enough to give a public thumbs up when companies do good things.
As an outgrowth of a conversation in #privchat on Twitter last month, some of us got together to proclaim Twitter Company of the Year for Data Privacy Day 2011. The effort – which made total sense to some of us in light of Twitter’s admirable response in fighting a sealed 2703(d) order to turn over user data – was a spontaneous one, and like all initiatives, met some resistance and bumps along the way. Many privacy advocates agreed that Twitter should be commended and tweeted #ThankTwitter or cast votes on Helios to approve or disapprove. Yet others signed a Twitter petition. But the title “Company of the Year” didn’t sit well with some who felt other companies might be more worthy candidates and that there had been no real choices in any voting. That the inaugural award could have been handled differently or better is indisputable, but with only weeks to go to Data Privacy Day, there simply wasn’t time to do all of the things we would have liked to do.
There were many excellent points made about what we might do going do going forward. One idea I raised was that we continue with the idea of issuing grassroots (the people’s) awards to companies or organizations who do an outstanding job of protecting our privacy or who raise the bar for others. Like the ignominious anti-privacy Big Brother awards, we could have categories of an annual privacy award for Data Privacy Day – with real nominations and real “votes.” We just have to start earlier next year. Here are some thoughts I had on possible categories to get us started in our conversations, although I realize these seem somewhat U.S.-oriented at this time:
- The company that’s the first to introduce a new privacy feature that significantly enhances user privacy.
- The company that introduces the best new privacy feature or protection of the year.
- The organization that has had the biggest positive impact on online user privacy.
- The organization that has had the biggest positive impact on offline user privacy.
- The state attorney general who has done the most to protect residents’ privacy.
- The member of Congress who introduced – and got enacted- the most privacy-protective bill of the year.
That may be too many awards, I know. And there may be better awards. I look forward to hearing what people think in the months to come.
In the meantime, congratulations, Twitter! And thank you – not only for fighting to give your users a chance to protect their privacy, but for giving us all the impetus to consider an annual award.
Great thanks to DataPrivacyDay2011.org and Privacy Projects for their enthusiastic support of our efforts to recognize companies that “get it right,” to Mark Stanley for creating the award graphic, and to Mark Stanley, Warren E. Hart, Jim Adler, Amber Yoo, Ben Adida, and Shaun Dakin for collaborating on the #ThankTwitter campaign.
Here’s hoping that companies and others will give us much to be excited about for Data Privacy Day 2012!