Wireless Group Creates Position to Address Privacy Concerns

As vice president of privacy, Debbie Matties will work with CTIA members to focus on industry best practices for collecting user data.

As the mobile and wireless industries face increasing regulation of how they collect and use personal data, a major trade association in the space has hired a “privacy chief” to help develop policies for protecting personal information about users.

What I’m going to be doing is … looking at what protections our members should have in place for their customers and people with whom they interact.

CTIA-The Wireless Association welcomed Debbie Matties to the organization earlier this week in the newly created role of vice president of privacy, according to a statement. Previously an advisor to Jon Leibowitz, former chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Matties will also serve as the association’s primary liaison with government agencies and their representatives on privacy issues.

“What I’m going to be doing is … looking at what protections our members should have in place for their customers and people with whom they interact,” Matties said. “Thinking about what their business needs are as far as providing innovative services to the public while maintaining customers’ privacy of information, being transparent about what information they’re collecting, and how to give customers choices about how that information is going to be used.”

Matties noted that changes in technology bring new challenges for protecting user information.

“As wireless develops, there are more ways in which companies can use and collect data,” she said. “Often times users can control the information that’s collected about them, but when they can’t it becomes a question of ‘What happens to that information once it’s collected?’”

As more associations interact with members in the mobile space, focusing on protecting user data is going to become more important, Matties said.

“It will depend on what kind of work the association is doing,” she said. “Medical groups and other consumer-facing [organizations] will find that their customers care about privacy and that they need to be transparent and need to figure out ways to make sure that they’re doing the right thing with the sensitive information.”

Creating the position shows that CTIA is taking steps to address an industry issue drawing greater scrutiny from both government and consumers, Matties said—a lesson all associations can take to heart.

“The association wants to make sure consumers are protected in this space, and that member companies are stepping up their game and doing what they need to do to keep consumers comfortable, maintain their trust, and continue good relationships going forward,” she said.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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