This is the inaugural column on privacy and data protection. The column is designed to assist general counsel in addressing the privacy and data issues that arise in a “stand-alone” context, such as liability for the wrongful disclosure of consumer personal information, and as part of large corporate initiatives, such as outsourcing, business services partnerships, structuring relationships with information technology vendors and securing intellectual property protection for databases (copyright) and business methods (patent).

The topics addressed in this column will be based on three fundamental premises. First, today’s methods of doing business require a company to open its computer systems and data to third parties. More openness means more security risks. The result is that in-house counsel must work with chief information officers and other business executives to balance the benefits of openness with the increased risks to computer and data security.