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An Open Letter to the U.S. Privacy Officer
I am happy you're going to be on the job. The appointment of a national chief privacy officer makes public sense. But we need a system of checks and balances to ensure that issues of confidentiality, data collection and the secure handling of personal information always weigh heavily in the office's decision-making. Several elements will need to go into the creation of any effective policy.
First, inform our citizens about what information is being collected about them, and why. As a general rule, people should be able to assume personal data is private, unless specifically notified otherwise. We're all familiar with examples of notice in the private sector, such as people being alerted that their customer service calls may be recorded.
As chief privacy officer, you must never forget that the Office of Homeland Security will be most effective when Americans cooperate to the fullest; being totally open and honest in situations when they're asked to give up their personal data for security purposes. This is a two-way street.
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