CIPS does good works

I’ve just left a CIPS’ national board meeting where board members and section presidents have been business planning. As part of this process, we were asked why CIPS’ membership is important to us. Responses were varied, but many centred on the values of ethics and professionalism.

I am a CIPS’ (Canadian Information Processing Society) national board member, co-chair of the External Liaison Committee, and a member of the College Program Accreditation Committee. I hold an I.S.P. designation (that’s the Information Systems Professional of Canada,, not Internet service provider).

With over 8,500 members, CIPS is Canada’s largest professional IT association. I belong to, and participate in, CIPS for many reasons. First my activities in CIPS allow me to put something back in the profession from which I derive a living. As professionals, we all should be contributing to the discussion on social and public policy issues related to our profession, and protecting our profession from encroachment by other professions where that encroachment is not in the public interest.

The other, and perhaps main reason for supporting CIPS is its public advocacy programs. CIPS advocates on behalf of the public interest in a number of ways. CIPS has responded to government requests for comment on a number of initiatives including: the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, revisions to Canada’s cryptography policy, and the recent round of consultations on copyright reform.

CIPS has also developed formally approved positions on Internet and e-mail surveillance, and privacy and information technology implementation and operational guidelines. These and other CIPS position papers can be found at CIPS also acts in the public interest by accrediting university and college information technology programs in most provinces.

CIPS was also called upon by the Newfoundland Courts as an expert organization with experience in program accreditation and professional certification, to work with the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers towards resolution of a dispute between Memorial University and the provincial professional engineers with respect to accrediting software engineering programs.

I am fortunate to have been either directly or indirectly involved in all of these issues, either as a board member or as a team member.

Legitimately, the reader will by now, be asking why I am writing about the virtues of CIPS in a privacy column. The above-mentioned issues have a common thread – they deal with ethics, professionalism and protecting the public interest. My interest in – no, make that advocacy for – privacy protection is completely compatible with CIPS’ advocacy activities.

These also happen to be the reason for proudly displaying the I.S.P. designation after my name. Holding the I.S.P. requires that I adopt certain professional codes of practice and ethics. Implicitly, displaying the designation articulates the values and ethics to which I subscribe. It also sends a message about my expectations to those that work with me. (I often wonder why many IT managers have not applied for their I.S.P. and encouraged their staff to do so, as a means of reinforcing professional values and cultures within their organizations.)

There are many ethical issues raised by the application of technology. The public needs a strong voice representing the interests of the individual practitioner as well as those of society. CIPS provides me with an opportunity to participate in public policy discussion in a way that is both important and satisfying.

I think that all IT practitioners need to consider how they can satisfy their professional obligations to society. CIPS has provided that channel for me, and I recommend it to others.

Boufford, I.S.P., is president of e-Privacy Management Systems, a consulting firm specializing in privacy and information technology. He can be reached at or