Survey: The best privacy advisers of 2010

This year's survey finds law firms still tops

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I asked Overbrook Research to carry out the survey again this year. Overbrook performs professional research for national political candidates, and The Wall Street Journal and other national media outlets have featured its work. The privacy professionals participating in the survey (there were 146 respondents this time -- people in large corporations and government agencies who have data privacy responsibilities, based primarily in North America but also Europe) could choose up to three firms as their top picks, muting the effect of a bias that could result if a respondent was in the midst of communicating with one of the firms during the polling period. I weighted more heavily the responses of those survey participants who chose three firms compared to those who chose two or one.

Table 2: Best privacy adviser -- individual

Individual Firm Role
Lisa Sotto Hunton & Williams Attorney
Andrew Serwin Foley & Lardner Attorney
Rebecca Herold Rebecca Herold & Associates Consultant
Shai Samet Samet Privacy Consultant
Miriam Wugmeister Morrison & Foerster Attorney
Peggy Eisenhauer Privacy & Information Management Services Attorney
Daniel Solove George Washington University Professor
Martin Abrams Hunton & Williams Consultant
Christopher Kuner Hunton & Williams Attorney
Stuart Ingis Venable Attorney
Eduardo Ustaran Field Fisher Waterhouse Attorney
Ann Cavoukian Government of Ontario Regulator
Christopher Wolf Hogan Lovells Attorney
Richard Purcell Corporate Privacy Group Consultant
Jules Polotensky Future of Privacy Forum Attorney
Kirk Nahra Wiley Rein Attorney
Jennifer Stoddart Government of Canada Regulator
Christopher Zoladz Navigate Consultant
KC Turan Dun & Bradstreet CPO
Richard Thomas Hunton & Williams Attorney
Robert Rothman Privacy Associates International Consultant
Stanley Crosley Privacy & Information Management Services Attorney
Alan Westin Columbia University Professor
Ariane Mole Bird & Bird Attorney
Christopher Millard University of London Professor
Francois Gilbert IT Law Group Attorney
Nuala O'Connor Kelly GE CPO
Robert Bond Speechlys Attorney
Respondents gave top billing to Lisa Sotto of Hunton & Williams when asked, Which person would you consider to be the top global expert on privacy? Respondents could choose only one person.

Note: The author ranked behind Andrew Serwin, but this result has to be discounted in light of likely influence, since he was known to be conducting the survey.
Source: Minnesota Privacy Consultants

Outlook

What do these experts foresee in the privacy arena in 2011?

"Online behavioral advertising, cloud computing and smart grid were front-burner issues in 2010," said Lisa Sotto, head of the privacy practice at Hunton & Williams. "Those issues will continue to hold the spotlight in 2011."

Sotto added that new privacy laws around the world and innovative uses of data will "guarantee the need for experts who think about privacy issues 24/7."

Eduardo Ustaran, a partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse in London, points out that in Europe, for example, 2011 brings a new e-privacy regime across member states and firm proposals for a new EU data protection directive. Jonathan Armstrong of Duane Morris LLP sees a "repeat of the issues around whistleblowing, but magnified. The bounty provisions of Dodd-Frank legislation and the U.K.'s Bribery Act 2010 mean significant changes for any global business."

Kirk Nahra, a partner with Wiley Rein in Washington, D.C., said that where businesses need most help "is in managing the wide range of overlapping and often inconsistent laws, as well as understanding best practices across a variety of industries." He added, "It is the growing complexity and volume of these laws and regulations that's creating the compliance problems, rather than the substance of the privacy standards themselves."

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