I came to the data field from a women’s and LGBTQ rights perspective – the constitutional right to privacy. There are echoes of our constitutional privacy rights through modern privacy, cybersecurity and data protection laws. At their core, much of this boils down to informational autonomy and liberty interests. But I did not realise then that this constitutional law privacy interest would lead me to a career so intrinsically focused on technology. That is one of the most fun points about practicing in the data field: we are so often asking age-old questions, but in an unendingly new and innovative context.
Some career highlights include cofounding and running the Women in Privacy Networking Group, a global group that provides a platform for high-level discussions of data protection and privacy law developments to facilitate and strengthen networking among women privacy professionals, and to mentor and promote the advancement of women in the field. Next year will be our 10-year anniversary. I am proud of all the great programming and events we have put on over the years, but I am even more proud of the relationships that have come out of the networking group, and meeting and learning from the many women that are trailblazers and leaders in this field.
The biggest challenge in data law right now is the prolific development of new privacy, cybersecurity and data protection laws at the local, state, federal and global level. While there are common threads of fair information principles in pretty much all of these laws, the laws and regulations are also extraordinarily (perhaps unnecessarily) complex to operationalise. Moreover, this fractured and polyphonic regime does not necessarily serve consumer privacy interests all that well.
To adapt to the challenge of the speed of the evolution of law, regulation, and cybersecurity risk, organisations need clear roles and responsibilities. This requires dedicated privacy, cybersecurity and data protection personnel that can work across and pull together information technology, information security, compliance, risk, legal, and frontline business roles.
I am closely following the development of AI law and regulation, which is going to shape the future of our economies and our societies, including the emerging metaverse frontier.
Women have always had strong representation in the data field. The key change I see is the increase in volume of young talent – the field is growing tremendously, including with many new women privacy professionals that come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. We must learn from each other. The intersectional perspective is necessary to take on the data and technology challenges facing the world today.
A piece of advice I would give aspiring data lawyers and professionals is to dig deep into questions that interest you, and follow-up to stay current. This area of law is very broad and changing so fast that it is critical to monitor for updates and never assume that the state of play has remained.