Business Week recently published a profile of Usama Fayyad, the chief data officer of Yahoo!. In this profile they highlight that his responsibilities are:
- "…make both sense and money from the vast amounts of information Yahoo collects on the doings of 500 million people who visit its site every month."
- "Fayyad… [is] engaged in a major battle over how freely that information can be used to tailor ads to individuals."
These goals are almost diametrically opposed. I searched for a chief privacy officer for Yahoo! as well, but did not find any references to one. While I am sure that Mr. Fayyad very competent and wants to strike the right balance, Yahoo! has opened themselves up to additional business risks by placing the duty to protect information, and make money from it in the same person. Much like our legal system, data protection and data usage need two different people on opposing sides in order to effectively bring the issues to light and find the right balance. That is why these two duties should be separated, and why it is important to have a chief privacy officer. There are already many other people on the opposite side of the issue, like the heads of business or marketing officers. Even still, it may not be a fair competition, but at least someone will be standing up for the consumer trying prevent privacy violations.