Postal Service prized for privacy

International Association of Privacy Professionals officials have selected the U.S. Postal Service to receive the group's 2004 privacy innovation award.

The award, announced today, recognizes government and nonprofit agencies that have developed innovative technologies and policies for protecting personal data.

Zoe Strickland, USPS' chief privacy officer, was cited for her role in developing the Postal Service's privacy impact assessment tool. The tool consists of a 21-page questionnaire that postal officials must complete for every information system from which USPS officials can retrieve employee or customer information by name or other unique identifier.

USPS officials have completed privacy impact assessments on 270 systems.

All federal agencies are required by law to conduct privacy assessments to protect employee data held in federal information systems, but the USPS tool has several significant features that set it apart, Strickland said in an interview. It incorporates every privacy rule and regulation that USPS is required to follow and includes an information security risk assessment.

Program officials use the tool every three years, whenever they create a new information system or significantly modify an existing one, Strickland said. The tool was designed, she said, "to make sure they do all the requirements correctly and efficiently."

The privacy group also recognized Microsoft Corp. with an award for data privacy innovation in the commercial sector.

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