Amazon's newest associate general counsel is also taking on a newly created position in the company's legal team. Nuala O'Connor will oversee privacy at the online retail giant as well as working on compliance.
This new hire makes Amazon one of the last large online companies to hire attorneys focused specifically on privacy. Apple, Google, and Facebook all have some kind of privacy officer on staff.
The fact that Amazon has also fallen in line raises the question of whether privacy counsel is a necessity for any legal department.
Amazon got into some trouble over user privacy shortly after the Kindle Fire launched, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company was accused of tracking user information.
House Representation Ed Markey (D., Mass.) was concerned that the Fire's browser would track customers as they browsed the Internet. All online activity was routed through Amazon's servers. But Amazon execs said that wouldn't be an issue, according to Business Insider.
The company said it only tracks aggregate browsing activity which isn't linked to any individual user.
There's nothing to say this hire is connected to that issue. But there's a good chance it was at least a factor in the decision.
Consumer privacy laws are growing and the increase in regulations is targeted towards online privacy.
That doesn't just mean that Internet-based companies should be worried. It also affects any company that does business online and has access to private consumer information.
Take a good look at your legal team and see whether anyone is dealing with privacy issues. If not, consider devoting certain attorneys to those tasks or potentially hiring a new associate general counsel to oversee privacy.
Amazon obviously sees the benefit of having internal counsel to handle any potential problems with consumer privacy. Perhaps your company will too.
- Tech Moves: Amazon hires privacy officer; Blucora bolsters board; CTI's new hire; and more (Geek Wire)
- Amazon Silk Browser Raises Privacy Concerns (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Tips to Help In House Counsel Preserve Privacy (FindLaw's In House)