For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Irene Oujo (201) 996-1154

New Survey Shows Privacy Officers Take Hold in Key Consumer Industries and Report to Top Management

Hackensack, NJ//December 6, 2001/// First findings of a national benchmark survey of privacy officers across consumer-services industries, released today by Privacy & American Business (P&AB) and the Association of Corporate Privacy Officers (ACPO)* show that companies which have Privacy Officers are institutionalizing comprehensive privacy policies and practices in their organizations operations. With 82% of privacy officers reporting directly to senior officials, the survey demonstrates that privacy is being supported by the highest levels in leading companies.

According to the survey director, Columbia University Professor and P&AB President Alan F. Westin, "This survey shows that most companies appointing privacy officers have chosen senior staff officials with long corporate experience, privacy-relevant professional backgrounds, and substantial salaries, and that they report directly to top management. This is the start of an institutionalization that is transforming and will greatly enhance meaningful privacy compliance in the U.S."

Funded by two organizations offering privacy services, Privacy Council and Guardent, the survey was commissioned by the ACPO and developed as part of P&ABs Corporate Privacy Officer Program 2001. This program is a year-long resource of social-trend analyses, legal reports, privacy survey round-ups, company case studies, Washington briefings, peer workshops, a model-policies library, and a national conference designed to support those involved in managing business privacy. More than 60 companies are participating in P&ABs CPO Program 2001.

Put into the field October 3-17 by Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ, the survey reports that two-thirds of respondents (68%) do NOT think that the September 11 terrorist attacks will "have a significant effect" on how they do their job or how their company approaches privacy issues. However, a quarter (24%) think the terrorist development will have such an effect (9% are not sure).

"This survey is of tremendous value to hundreds of companies that are considering appointing CPOs and deciding who they should report to and what their salary, background, experience, roles, and responsibilities are," said Agnes Bundy Scanlan, CPO, Fleet Financial.

Among the first-wave findings released today:

What Companies Are Doing About Privacy

As further evidence that privacy is now being institutionalized, companies with Privacy Officers are engaged in major privacy management throughout all of their operations. Findings show that:

CPOs Today

Why companies are appointing CPOs

In one of the most important findings, according to Dr. Westin, "half of these firms, 47%, now recognize privacy as a competitive edge issue with consumers where they want to play a leadership role." Privacy officers in these firms believe "Top management is strongly behind a proactive, leadership-oriented privacy policy that promises a competitive edge for us." Dr. Westin noted "This compares with 5-10% of companies in consumer-service industries that held a similar proactive philosophy in the mid to late 90s." Other findings released today:

The Future of Privacy Officers

Full results

The full results of the survey, including details on how these companies are developing privacy management systems, problems they are encountering, plans for various consumer, employee, and global privacy codes in the near future, and similar in-depth responses will be released in March, at P&ABs Eighth Annual National Privacy Conference, organized this year with Privacy Council. Members of P&ABs CPO Program will have an advanced look at these results. 


P&AB staff compiled a list (with email addresses) of 311 individuals, publicly designated as privacy officials in U.S. companies that collect and use consumer personal information. This represents about 75% of what P&AB currently estimates to be privacy officials across all such American firms.

Fieldwork was conducted between October 3-17, 2001, with a representative sample of 102 privacy officers. Forty-four percent of the sample work in financial services or health industries (22% each); 20% in hardware, software, and information services; 6% in direct marketing; 6% at dot.coms; and the remaining 24% are distributed across other industries.

There was a 33% response rate from the total list of privacy officers contacted. This compares favorably to the response rates for organization officials contacted in management or staff telephone or online surveys.

About Privacy & American Business

Privacy & American Business ( is an activity of the Center for Social & Legal Research, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy think tank exploring U.S. and global issues of consumer and employee privacy and data protection. Since its launch in 1993, P&AB was the first to chart and analyze for business the rise of privacy from a second-tier concern to a front-burner issue. P&ABs new monthly electronic newsletter is the most often cited and respected national publication on business and consumer privacy issues today. In addition to its newsletter, annual conference and national surveys, P&AB pioneered and continues to lead the first and only comprehensive year-round program to inform and train Corporate Privacy Officers. For more information about P&AB and its activities, visit or send an email to .

About ACPO*

The Association of Corporate Privacy Officers (ACPO), an outgrowth of P&ABs CPO Program, and the Privacy Officers Association (POA), associations organized to promote the professional development of privacy officers, are merging in November to form a single, strong, cross-industry organization devoted to the development and interests of the privacy officer profession. The new International Association of Corporate Privacy Officers is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) professional organization headquartered in Philadelphia, PA and Hackensack, NJ.

About Privacy Council

Privacy Council (, is among the leading privacy solutions companies, offering a range of technology, knowledge and monitoring tools to help businesses with both national and global interests to become more knowledgeable about privacy issues, comply with changing privacy laws, document their privacy achievements and enable websites to become compliant with the new Internet Explorer 6. Recognizing the impact of this survey research, Larry Ponemon, CEO of Privacy Council, says, "This research shows that despite the September 11 crisis, privacy still remains a fundamentally important issue for major corporations in America." Privacy Council is headquartered in the Telecom Corridor of Richardson, TX and has offices in Washington, D.C.

About Guardent

Guardent ( provides vendor neutral security and privacy services for Global 2000 and mid-tier organizations. Integrating consulting and managed services, Guardent helps financial services, life sciences, manufacturing, government and technology clients achieve their business objectives through use of appropriate security and privacy measures. Patrick Sullivan, Vice President, Privacy and Information Policy for Guardent, sees the impact of CPOs on business, saying, "The importance of this kind of survey is underscored by the results showing that privacy management clearly has become a core business competency." Headquartered in the heart of Boston's technology corridor and with offices throughout North America, Guardent brings together a team of corporate business, security and privacy experts. Guardent was recently named by ComputerWorld as one of the "Top 100 Emerging Companies of 2002."