The best privacy advisers in 2007

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“We saw more active enforcement with historically large fines and penalties,” seconded Rebecca Herold of Rebecca Herold LLC.

London-based Bridget Treacy, a Hunton attorney, thought the EU opposition to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) data transfers to the U.S. government was a watershed development. “This year European regulators signaled that it's no longer acceptable for businesses to pay lip service to data-privacy compliance.”

Fred Cate, law professor at Indiana University, agreed. “Disclosures of secret government surveillance and data-mining programs sharpened attention this year on the volume and types of personal information that businesses are collecting and sharing with the government.”

Echoing this theme, Kuner said that “the biggest privacy development in 2007 has been the increasing number of cases in which companies are caught in the middle between U.S. law-enforcement requirements and EU data-protection requirements.”

Marty Abrams, head of Hunton's Center for Information Policy Leadership, saw the center of privacy gravity move eastward. “The most significant development in 2007 is that we have finally begun a dialogue between Asia and Europe on the unique privacy cultures that exist in these different worlds.”

Outlook for the privacy market

So will corporate privacy agendas in 2008 continue to be driven by litigation and government enforcement actions? For their part, privacy attorneys are confident that the answer is yes. "The need to respond to government enforcement agencies 'swinging a bigger bat' will generate increased demand for privacy advisory services in 2008 and 2009," said Venable's Milo Cividanes.

London-based Eduardo Ustaran of Field Fisher Waterhouse added, “Until a greater degree of harmonization among global privacy laws is achieved, businesses will continue to look for practical mechanisms such as Binding Corporate Rules to legitimize their global-processing operations.”

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