Eight Privacy Firms to Watch

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North of the border, Toronto native Terry McQuay also saw an opportunity developing in 2000 when Canada's federal government and many of its provinces started adopting comprehensive privacy legislation. Two years later, he started Nymity Inc., a provider of a Web-based privacy support program that includes a repository of privacy-risk reports. The program also includes tools to ensure that organizations don't over-comply with privacy laws and put unnecessary restriction on their business. Nymity has hundreds of Canadian clients.

"Most companies think we're in the consulting business, which we're not," McQuay told me. "So we usually spend a great deal of time explaining what Web-based privacy support is."

McQuay sees the Canadian privacy market continuing to invest in privacy management, including updating privacy notices, conducting privacy audits and delivering privacy training to employees.

As Microsoft's first CPO, Richard Purcell was a regular participant in various forums where the international privacy debate was unfolding. After several years of developing and promoting Microsoft's privacy program, Purcell struck out on his own. In 2003, he and his wife, Paula, relocated from Redmond, Wash., to a home overlooking Puget Sound and formed Corporate Privacy Group.

CPG's central focus is on education and awareness for employees, but Purcell's clients have increasingly sought his advice in forming their privacy programs and business strategies.

"The original business plan doesn't look anything like today's reality," Purcell told me from a conference in Quebec, where he was working with law enforcement and counterterrorism experts. "Privacy, security and compliance are becoming more closely related."

"Eventually, I see the privacy function merging with data security," Purcell added, "and evolving into a data-governance role under the CIO."

About the time Purcell was starting his venture, Alan Chapell was seeing a growing need for mobile and interactive-technology companies to demonstrate their commitment to doing the right thing with privacy. So, with a new law degree in hand, he left his job at a Manhattan marketing firm to start Chapell & Associates LLC.

Chapell said it's easy to underestimate the amount of time involved in launching even a one-person firm.

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