Privacy Bill of Rights – Right to Accountability, part 2

Title I of the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 is comprised of two rights – the Right to Security and the Right to Accountability. This posting focuses on the second part, the Right to Accountability.

Similar to the Right to Security, this section is short. In essence it says that each “covered entity” (see the previous post for what that entails), shall:

1. Have reasonable accountability for the adoption and implementation of policies consistent with this Act;

2. Develop a process for responding to non-frivolous individual complaints about how their personally identifiable information (PII) is collected, used and managed;

3. And lastly, document and communicate how it complies with this Act upon request from an authorized party, such as the FTC.

What this section really says can be narrowed down to one word: POLICY

Legislation aside, if your businesses or organization manages sensitive data, you should already have a formal, written policy as to how information is safeguarded, managed and accounted. So for many, this requirement is nothing new to what they should already have in place.

That being said, there are many SMB organizations that would be affected by this Act and do not have a security policy in place. It follows then, that for this reason, requiring businesses to have a security policy in place may be extremely beneficial for businesses and consumers.

And the easiest way to make a policy? Borrow from the Deming Wheel.

The Deming Wheel

Here is a brief outline to writing any business process or policy:

* PLAN – put your plan in writing, assign an owner, and define how your business will comply with this Act;

* DO – put your plan in place, test it, train others on it and make it known in the organization;

* CHECK – make a checklist, regularly audit the process, verify and document results;

* ACT – improve on the process where possible.

In summary, the whole issue of accountability boils down to putting data security policies in place that are “proportional to the size and structure” of your business or organization. Even if this Act does not become law, creating a formal security policy is certainly the prudent thing to do for any business.

The next post will be on Title II, the Right to Notice and Individual Participation.

About Chris McKie

Chris McKie, J.D., is a Director at WatchGuard Technologies, a leading provider of Internet security solutions. His areas of expertise include governance, risk management and compliance.

3 Responses to “Privacy Bill of Rights – Right to Accountability, part 2”

  1. Ok Chris, this time I am going to pick at you. The PDCA (or Deming Wheel / Shewhart Wheel) is actually describing how to develop a procedure, not a policy. A policy would describe the goals and intentions but not the means. For instance a policy would state a goal similar to:

    “Organization strives to implement reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of data loss.”

    A procedure would state how the organization attempts to accomplish this goal, perhaps as follows:

    “The organization will deploy ACLs on routers and policy rules on firewalls to prevent unapproved use of network protocols and ports. Furthermore, application controls will be deployed to prevent the use of unauthorized applications that may allow data leakage.”

    While it may be possible to plan, do, act, and check a policy, it is not especially effective as policies are conceptual. Rather PDCA is far more applicable to a procedure. The policy is the basis upon which one uses PDCA to design and implement procedure.

    • Fair enough… I wanted to illustrate this point as it applies to the third sub-section, which calls for a company to “describe its programmatic means of compliance…” My interpretation of this statement blurs the lines between policy and procedure in that the government want a policy AND they want documentation on the procedure, too. Additionally, many smaller businesses without the luxury of IT may find it easier to craft a procedure as described above; it’s a starting point, for sure. Granted, many books are dedicated to this subject, so yes, it is a challenge to cover “how to develop a policy” in a short blog posting. :) If others are interested, I would recommend, “Achieving 100% Compliance,” by Setphen Page. It’s a good resource for exactly what you point out. Thanks again for the comment! I appreciate it, Chris

  2. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for cafe verde

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