Privacy-information services: The free, the cheap and the pricey

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Where can Nymity improve? Making the interface more intuitive so that it requires less training, and adding European and Asian content.

New entrant

Last December, San Francisco-based law firm Morrison & Foerster entered the subscription-database market for privacy information with its Summit Privacy Resources LLC spin-off. Summit Privacy is a queriable database of English-language texts of world privacy laws that MoFo has organized into a common lexicon.

Use Summit Privacy's filters to query all "privacy notice" obligations worldwide, for example, and the Web site will produce a spreadsheet matrix of world privacy laws compared against similar privacy-notice provisions. A network of local counsel around the world keeps the database updated.

Besides generating law charts, Summit Privacy's comparative strength is Asian privacy regulations, which are often not available on the Web in English or with the appropriate context to understand the actual corporate obligations.

What's the only downside to the service? The minimum 25-seat, $25,000 annual subscription price. That's a steal for Fortune 100 companies, but it's probably out of the reach of smaller enterprises with only periodic privacy needs.

All three services deserve applause for bringing more order to the growing patchwork of privacy information. Which one will prevail in today's flat economy? Whoever can become as simple and as accurate as Google and as indispensable as Microsoft Office. As privacy threats and compliance obligations spread into the vast sea of small businesses, first-mover advantages have yet to be claimed.

Jay Cline is a former chief privacy officer at a Fortune 500 company and is now president of Minnesota Privacy Consultants. You can reach him at cwprivacy@computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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