Fellow privacy professionals – your country needs you!

Stop the world, I want to get off! Well, they’ve stopped the world, but we want to stay on. However hard we’re trying to keep up with business as usual, it’s inevitable that the pace is going to slow once the initial burst of adaptation has passed.

Use this opportunity to take stock

Not only are there heightened threats to privacy all across the government and corporate responses to the Coronavirus crisis, there are also greater risks of data breach inherent in the sudden shift to everyone working from home. Sadly, the world’s criminals see this as a business opportunity and we need to work closely with our cyber colleagues to keep our customers’ and employees’ personal data safe.

Even so, some things will slow down, or even stop. Don’t put your feet up. This is the time to take stock, take a breather from the DSARs and new project planning, the customer enquiries and employee questions and look again at your organisation’s fundamental privacy practice.

Analyse and prepare for the future

The crisis will have taught you a lot about how your organisation can pull together; how it can work across silos; how it can communicate effectively and act decisively and fast. What can you learn from this that could be applied in happier times?

Can you improve communication about privacy now that your organisation must have identified effective, immediate means of reaching all of its stakeholders?

Do you perhaps have the time to write up policies and procedures with an eye to the future?

Can you get proper C-suite buy-in for collaboration across security and compliance functions, now that you’ve learned how streamlined things can be?

The NHS is managing to put thousands of users a day onto a new digital messaging platform so that under-pressure medics can talk safely about patients across organisational and specialism boundaries. Watching how the NHS can even do this with limited resources under insane pressure, take some inspiration away from this and maybe get rid of those paper HR forms.

Your business will also be making changes at unparalleled speed. Isn’t now the time to prove that privacy-by-design needn’t slow things down and can help focus efforts on maximum benefit to stakeholders?

Think about the clean-up exercise

However hard you work, you and I both know that one consequence of the crisis response will be a lot of decisions made in haste and repented at leisure. A lot of over-collection; a lot of over-sharing; a great deal of unstructured data lying around waiting to be breached. Plan now for how you’ll deal with it all once the dust has settled.

Now there’s a chance to be strategic. Seize it!

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