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Our latest series will introduce you to a new TRUSTe employee every week to give you an inside look at the talented, knowledgeable and friendly people who work at TRUSTe. 


Name: Joanne Furtsch

Job title: Director of Product Policy, CIPP/US, CIPP/C

How long have you worked at TRUSTe?: 15 years. I have the distinction of being TRUSTe’s longest tenured employee.

Describe your current role, how this has changed over time and your current key projects: I started working in privacy before consumers really saw it as an issue, and before it was considered a career. At that time I conducted TRUSTe certification reviews and specialized in working with global companies such as Oracle and IBM. My role at TRUSTe has evolved; now I’m doing a combination of product and policy work. My key responsibilities include developing and managing TRUSTe’s certification standards across all our programs, and developing and building TRUSTe’s content database for the Data Privacy Management Platform.

What do you like most about working here?: Privacy is never boring. I enjoy solving problems and building solutions. Privacy is an interesting topic to me because it’s constantly evolving, meaning there are new problems to solve and to work in privacy means you’re always thinking ahead since technology is becoming more and more apart of our daily lives.

Why do you think online privacy is an important issue?: When I first started working at TRUSTe, the Internet was a mystery. You entered your information into a form, and it went somewhere. Where did it go and who was behind the curtain of that web page?

Now, even the most tech-adverse person has some information online — whether it’s healthcare records or tax records. But most people regularly use the Internet, have smartphones, participate in numerous social networks, and use apps and web services that collect personal data. It’s essential that everyone understands how this evolving technology works. For instance, with free apps the consumer is the product — giving up some of their information is typically how the app is able to be free. But companies and app developers need to be transparent with what information is being collected and how it’s used.

Early on you had to trust that who you were giving your information to wasn’t going to do anything bad with it. Now that more and more consumers and devices are connected, and companies are able to collect even more information than ever, companies need to demonstrate accountability for what they do with the information they collect.

What are some hot issues in the privacy space right now?: Children’s privacy continues to be an important and timely privacy issue that is being discussed more and more both in and outside of the US. More people recognize that as children get online earlier and earlier in life they require extra protections.

Within the privacy community, there tends to be more “best practices” guidance than actual laws. COPPA is a law that was enacted in 1998 with the first version of the COPPA Rule going into effect in 2000. COPPA requires online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under age 13, or target services towards children under age 13, to provide notice to parents and get consent prior to collecting personal information from the child. I recently spoke about COPPA at the IAPP’s Europe Data Protection Congress and I always say that COPPA isn’t just for kids websites — any online service may have obligations under COPPA.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?: I enjoy reading mystery novels and legal thrillers. A John Grisham novel is a great escape. Sundays during the fall and winter months are spent watching my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers! When it’s not football season I enjoy spending time outside working in the yard or riding my bike. I also enjoy going wine tasting and discovering new wines with my husband.

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