Privacy officers are extremely important. The Privacy Act requires every agency to have one. Most agencies do have one. But, that’s just the problem - only one. Being a privacy officer can be a lonely job, but the issues every privacy officer faces are often similar.
Enter PORT or the Privacy Officers Round Table. PORT emerged in Wellington a number of years ago as a forum for privacy officers. It has now grown in size and scope, and has two groups which meet quarterly in Wellington and Auckland. Participants come from the public and private sector, and from small and large agencies. Some are lawyers, some aren’t (please note that privacy officers come from all backgrounds). It’s this blend that makes it work so well.
The idea behind PORT is simple. It presents an opportunity for privacy officers to get together, share experiences and problems and learn from one another. As most privacy officers work alone, and many are a lone voice in a large organisation, such a forum is an invaluable part of the support network for privacy compliance.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner supports the PORT endeavour. We think this sort of collaboration is good for privacy compliance and shows us that privacy is valued by the organisations involved. We’d encourage all privacy officers to get involved in PORT, or to consider setting up PORT groups in other centres. We’ll help where we can. It’s a great forum for us to speak at from time to time.
For more information about the privacy officer role, to get in touch with PORT in your area, or to set up your own group, click here.