We now have respected and savvy technologists in place in government as CTO and CIO. Jules will be speaking at RSA this week to CIOs and CSOs about the key relationship between them and their CPO, an issue that has become an increasing corporate focus. With the many federal privacy issues in play right now, we now need a Chief Privacy Officer at the most senior government level to help ensure trust about user data. Consider the skepticism over putting NSA in charge of federal government cyber-security – even though NSA may have the best technical security expertise, critics have expressed concerns about NSA playing this role due to past government privacy controversies. An empowered CPO with clout (or a Chief Counselor for Privacy, as a version of this role was called when Peter Swire held it during the Clinton years) could bolster the level of faith in government needed to ensure that every agency is aware that the President wants the oversight, checks and balances, and legal processes in place that ensure both security and respect for privacy and civil liberties.
There are great agency CPOs in the intelligence agencies and elsewhere in government and the recent appointment of Mary Ellen Callahan at Homeland Security was a great move. But the Obama Administration could continue its record of innovation by the appointment of a CPO to partner with our new CTO and CIO.