I wrote last week about the release of the Heartland Monitor Poll (Poll) that had been undertaken through the partnership of Allstate, The Atlantic and the National Journal (“Privacy Poll Results May Surprise You”; June 17). One of the keynote speakers at the event was former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

Mr. Leibowitz was interviewed by Ronald Brownstein, Editorial Director, Atlantic Media.  During that interview, Mr. Leibowitz discussed the very timely topic of the threats to people’s privacy from both the public/governmental sector as well as the private sector.  He acknowledged the benefits that “big date” or “targeted data” can bring people (e.g., improved health information).  But he also expressed his view that private sector companies pose an equal threat to people’s privacy as that potentially posed by the federal government.  More of Mr. Leibowitz’s insights and comments can be found in Emma Green’s article in The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com; “Ex-Government Official: The Private Sector is Threatening Your Privacy”).

Mr. Leibowitz’s views are particularly interesting when compared with some of the Poll findings.  As discussed during the June 13th event, Poll respondents, in general, said they felt that their personal information would be collected and used responsibly by certain groups such as healthcare providers, law enforcement, their own employers, insurance companies and financial institutions.  However, Poll respondents expressed more concern about their data being collected and used by other entities such as the government, communication providers, online stores, political groups, the media and social media websites.

Panelists and attendees suggested that those findings reflected a key message: Poll respondents felt a greater confidence in those entities with which they had a more personal relationship than those with which they did not.

As I mentioned in my June 17th post, the Poll results can be found at:http://www.allstate.com/heartland-monitor.  The questions and results are worth reading — think about how you would respond and then read Ms. Green’s interview with Mr. Leibowitz for a comparison.