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What we're hearing: A chief privacy officer's view of CAIOs

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May 29, 2024
Illustration of multiple name tags that all say "Hello my name is AI."

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Chief privacy officers can provide a playbook for the officials taking on AI in government, Future of Privacy Forum CEO Jules Polonetsky said in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Before government agencies started naming chief AI officers, the tech industry was hiring chief privacy officers — and the latter can inform the work of the former.

  • Because privacy and AI are inextricably linked, CAIOs should heed some of the lessons learned by industry CPOs, Polonetsky said.

Before launching the Future of Privacy Forum 15 years ago, Polonetsky served as CPO for major tech companies in the early 2000s.

  • Polonetsky worked as CPO for DoubleClick — which was later acquired by Google — then AOL.

What they're saying: "It's critical to ensure these roles are set up in ways where they're actually empowered. Otherwise, they can just be for show," he said.

  • That means giving the CAIOs proper tools, staff and authority to integrate policies and ensure compliance.
  • Both privacy and AI officers are responsible for raising issues through the proper channels and mitigating new risks. AI issues directly relate to data use, decisions, transparency and other privacy concerns.
  • The AI Safety Institute could help set standards for government agencies to follow, but it needs proper funding to be effective.

Chief AI officers will need proper support and integration to be effective, rather than being just another title, Polonetsky said.

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