IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015

I love conferences. I had a boss who told me he did not like conferences, they were just big parties. I found that to be odd – all the conferences I had ever gone to – whether with the IAPP, HCCA, the Equal Justice Conference with the ABA, etc. – I had been subsumed with attending the sessions and learning. Then I attended the ACC, which is incredibly informative and educational – but for those it appeals to, there is definitely an opportunity to participate in social events and networking.

Let’s break down the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015. I’ll do this in a few posts as I have more to say than should be shared in one post.

First: location. This conference is always in DC in the Early spring. March seems to be a little too early, more late winter than early spring. It’s been freaking cold COLD the past couple of years. Last year was my first year to come to the Global Privacy Summit and there was ice and snow on the ground then, too.  I have heard rumors that they are moving it to April for 2016. I hope so!

Hotel: The venue was moved to the Mariott Marquis this year and it was wonderful. Well…other than those who were here on Monday were shifted to the Mayflower for the night. Now the Mayflower is supposed to be awesome, but it fell way short of that. The floor I was on was being renovated, including the room next to mine. I dealt with construction noises and fumes the entire time I was there. I am horribly allergic to chemicals, so I was miserable. The Marriott was pleasant. The movement from floor to floor for sessions was easy. Even schlepping over to the huge ballroom for the opening and closing sessions was fine.

Attendees: The IAPP has reached over 20,000 members and over 3,000 of them were at this conference. There were not enough seats for meals and people were eating at vendor booths, standing in hallways, etc. But that was a minor inconvenience. There were a huge number of IT/Information Security professionals there which was truly encouraging for the collaboration between the fields. Also, one of the big draws for this summit is the number of government personnel and foreign privacy professionals who attend. I met quite and few. Discussions tend to range from personal to professional, privacy to education, kids to processes – seriously, the scope and breadth of topics individually and in small groups was enormous – thought-provoking and entertaining. Networking is like breathing. Never met a privacy professional I did not like.

Sessions:

Opening session was typical. Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of IAPP, is exactly what one would expect for such a group. He is engaging, informative, and enthusiastic. (I had a couple of personal minutes with him as he was locked out of his room and waiting for security. He really is as human as the rest of us.)

Hilary Wandall, Associate Vice President, Compliance and Chief Privacy Officer of Merck & Co., Inc., current Vice Chair for the IAPP Board of Directors served as emcee for the event. I had the opportunity to meet her later during the conference and was surprised that she knew my names – and of course responded with my typical complete lack of sophistication. I only have one time to make a first impression so I sure hope her impression was formed long before we met! She is charming, quite intelligent, composed, and a wonderful public speaker.

Glenn Greenwald, journalist, who authored No Place to Hide, a book detailing his coverage of the NSA scandal and Edward Snowden’s disclosures. He is an excellent speaker – and no matter your opinion on NSA, Snowden, US surveillance – he is in the thick of exposing privacy and security concerns. He is not an inspiring speaker, but his words are riveting.

Next up was Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University. Now here is an interesting speaker. He is obviously a law professor – he has a charming habit of leaning on the podium at times that makes him seem like an average joe…kinda. It is evident by his words that he is far from average. He engaged the audience directly – calling out questions, seeking impressions, and near-Socratically delving further into a speaker’s opinion.

Tune in for the next installment of the pre-quel to the opening sessions, the pre-conference.

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