The challenges of fighting for online privacy and data security are very real to Craig Spiezle, president and executive director of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Online Trust Alliance (OTA). Less than a week after taking the Republican Congress to task for the controversial repeal of FCC broadband privacy controls, Spiezle is announcing today that his 13-year-old organization is merging with the Internet Society (ISOC), carrying on its fight for that issue and others from within the much older and larger Washington, D.C.-based organization.
Spiezle said the OTA, which counts Microsoft and Symantec among its founding members, will now become a key initiative of the Internet Society. He will work closely with Internet Society President and CEO Kathryn Brown to tackle the major online trust, data security and privacy challenges facing both consumers and technology companies.
“By working together, OTA’s vision and mission will be sustained and amplified with the resources, reach and stature of the Internet Society,” said Spiezle, as he outlined the advantages he sees for OTA in becoming a part of ISOC, with its 95,000 individual members and supporters and 122 chapters around the world.
In an interview with GeekWire, Spiezle said the two organizations connected after he and Olaf Kolkman, ISOC’s chief internet technology officer, were keynote speakers at an event last October sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association. Kolkman was talking about the global aspects of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the resulting impact on society and the internet, Spiezle recalled.
“Then he went on to say what you can do, and said you should look to this group called the Online Trust Alliance, they have some very practical and prescriptive advice for security and privacy and the lifecycle issues regarding the IoT ecosystem.”
That led Spiezle to think that the two organizations should start talking — something that he suggests doesn’t happen often enough among groups that work at the intersection of technology and policy.
“One of the challenges and frustrations I have found is there are so many groups out there that want to re-invent the wheel and don’t want to partner,” he said. “What was really striking is that the Internet Society looked at us as very complementary in our efforts.”
ISOC president and CEO Kathryn Brown also offered her thoughts on why the organizations are a good fit. “The Internet Society and OTA share the belief that trust is the key issue in defining the future value of the Internet,” she said. “Now is the right time for these two organizations to come together to help build user trust in the Internet. At a time when cyber-attacks and identity theft are on the rise, this partnership will help improve security and data privacy for users.”