DHS names chief privacy officer

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has named an attorney who specializes in e-commerce, antitrust, and privacy issues to head the DHS Privacy Office.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on Thursday she is appointing attorney Mary Ellen Callahan as the department's chief privacy officer.

"Homeland security and privacy are not mutually exclusive, and having a seasoned professional like Mary Ellen on the team further ensures that privacy is built in to everything we do," Napolitano said. "Our Privacy Office is viewed as a leader in the federal government in public outreach and as model for Privacy Impact Assessments. I look forward to the skill and experience Mary Ellen will bring to this robust and important office."

Callahan currently serves as a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, where she counsels online companies, trade associations, and other corporations on antitrust, e-commerce, and privacy-related issues. She has helped companies draft their Web site privacy policies and terms of use and counsels corporations on developing legally compliant e-mail marketing campaigns.

The new privacy officer has also helped consumer-health Web sites develop standards for self-regulation and, as co-chair of the Online Privacy Alliance, has helped the network advertising industry develop its own self-regulations--something the Federal Trade Commission is closely watching . She has represented numerous companies before the FTC and the Justice Department on antitrust issues and possible violations of the FTC Act.

In January, Callahan co-published an article (PDF) in the "Privacy & Data Security Law Journal" about how the Internet Explorer 8 InPrivate feature "could substantially impact both the business models and the current practices of third-party ad servers, behavioral marketers, web traffic analytics services, and content providers." Callahan wrote the article with her Hogan & Hartson colleagues Mark Paulding and Christine Varney , who was recently nominated to be the Obama administration's antitrust chief.

Callahan also serves as vice-chair of the American Bar Association's Privacy and Information Security Committee of the Antitrust Division.

 

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