Going Behind the Scenes: TrustArc’s Director of Privacy Intelligence

Joann Furtsch, TrustArc’s Director of Privacy Intelligence is our longest-tenured employee. Starting in 1999, Joann has watched the data privacy landscape evolve before her and TrustArc’s eyes.

Over the years she’s learned valuable insights as compliance with data privacy has more recently become a business challenge.

The Early Days of Privacy Intelligence

Joann started working in privacy before consumers saw it as an issue and before it was considered a career.

She explains, “at that time, I conducted TRUSTe certification reviews and specialized in working with global companies such as Oracle and IBM. My role at TrustArc has evolved.”

Now TrustArc’s Director of Privacy Intelligence executes a combination of product and policy work.

Joann’s key responsibilities include developing and managing TRUSTe’s certification standards across all our programs and developing and building TrustArc’s content database for PrivacyCentral.

“Privacy is never boring. I enjoy solving problems and building solutions.


Privacy is an interesting topic because it’s constantly evolving, meaning there are new problems to solve, and to work in privacy means you’re always thinking ahead since technology is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives.”

Data Privacy is a Business Accountability Issue

In the early days of TrustArc, the Internet was a mystery. You entered your information into a form, and it went somewhere. Where did it go and who was behind the curtain of that web page? No one knew.

Now, even the most tech-adverse person has some information online — whether it’s healthcare records or tax records.

Most people regularly use the Internet, have smartphones, participate in numerous social networks, and use apps and web services that collect personal data.

It’s essential that everyone understands how this evolving technology works.

For instance, with free apps the consumer is the product — giving up some of their information is typically how the app is able to be free. But companies and app developers need to be transparent with what information is being collected and how it’s used.

Early on you had to trust that who you were giving your information to wasn’t going to do anything bad with it.

Now that more and more consumers and devices are connected, and companies are able to collect even more information than ever, companies need to demonstrate accountability for what they do with the information they collect.

Current Privacy Intelligence Trends

Children’s privacy continues to be an important and timely privacy issue that is being discussed more and more both in and outside of the US. More people recognize that as children get online earlier and earlier in life they require extra protections.

Within the privacy community, there tends to be more “best practices” guidance than actual laws. COPPA is a law that was enacted in 1998 with the first version of the COPPA Rule going into effect in 2000.

COPPA requires online services with knowledge that they’re collecting personal information from children under age 13, or target services towards children under age 13, to provide notice to parents and get consent prior to collecting personal information from the child.

I recently spoke about COPPA at the IAPP’s Europe Data Protection Congress and I always say that COPPA isn’t just for kids websites — any online service may have obligations under COPPA.

What TrustArc’s Director of Privacy Intelligence do for fun when she’s not working?

“I enjoy reading mystery novels and legal thrillers. A John Grisham novel is a great escape. Sundays during the fall and winter months are spent watching my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers!”

When it’s not football season she enjoys spending time outside working in the yard or riding her bike. Joann also enjoys wine tastings and discovering new wines with her husband.