Is Privacy the KEY Information Governance component?

Information Governance is a hot buzzword in certain circles.  It combines the concerns of Information Management (IM), Records Management (RM), Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM).  There is no agreed-upon definition, but most people spout something like, “Information Governance = Treating information as it ought to be treated, taking into account the concerns of stakeholders in IT (storage), IT (security), Legal, Privacy and Records.”

There is a great deal to such a definition because so many constituencies are involved.  Warring factions with competing mandates all bring their own agendas to the table, and a little personal empire-building only adds to the chaos.  The definition is also significant because the word ‘ought’ connotes not only the obligations imposed on the organization by statutory and regulatory schemes, but also by an innate sense that the organization will need do the right thing in managing its information.

Of all the things that fall under the umbrella of Information Governance, the most important one might well be privacy, for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, privacy is a primary concern in a number of jurisdictions, perhaps most notable in Europe.  The fundamental-ness of privacy there is hard to fathom to Americans unused to it, but is quickly understood by anyone who has fellow information managers East of the Atlantic.  Globalization does not seem to be slowing, and it may soon be the rare organization that does not find itself looking to the EU for privacy guidance.

Second, the business model of many (most?) social media companies seems to be to trade personal information for access.  This will inevitably lead to overreach in those companies using that personal information and a growing need to construct ways to keep certain information private.

Third, as more and more people live parts of their lives online and use technology to enhance their enjoyment, there will be unintended side effects.  In updating my iPhone to the new version 4.0 OS, I was surprised to see that it knew where I had used it to take pictures.  That was both a little cool and a great deal concerning.

Fourth, together these concerns have led legislatures to enact privacy legislation.  There is currently a patchwork of privacy obligations across America and the EU, but it only makes sense that these might consolidate in the coming years.

There is no shortage of concern over the future of privacy and the response that most people and organizations will need to take in response.  Louis Brandeis, where are you now?