The Roots of WireWheel

Feb 27, 2019

Over the past five years, we have seen real urgency develop worldwide around the topic of privacy – and the story starts and ends with people.

Why? Because most people didn’t – and still don’t – believe they are in control of their own information. Individuals, advocacy groups, legislators and technologists began demanding change – and governments have started to take action.

Organizations, too, have started to take privacy seriously and to charge technical teams, security teams, and compliance teams with the job of protecting information and establishing trust.

But, if protecting privacy is now part of your job, it might seem like a nearly impossible task. The information necessary to protect privacy is either buried in your technical stack, or in the minds of people all over your organization and your wider network of partners, vendors, consultants and advisors. You often have to tackle this with limited time, limited resources, and the threat of significant fines hanging over your head.

We founded WireWheel because organizations needed a different approach to tackling privacy. Our vision is based on two main principles:

  • First, it takes people to protect privacy. Technology alone will not help organizations ensure they are doing the right thing with personal information.
  • Second, privacy management technology needs to leverage what organizations have already purchased and translate it for their privacy teams. By enabling privacy teams to understand technical stacks, they can tackle privacy protection, and CTOs and CISOs no longer have to answer the same privacy questionnaires over and over again.

Momentum for achieving privacy excellence is building. A year into this endeavor, we are thrilled to be selected as one of RSA’s 10 Innovation Sandbox Finalists.

I can’t wait to build the next phase of WireWheel.

Behind the Scenes of Privacy and Trade Negotiations

I had the honor of representing the United States around the world on privacy during the Obama Administration, and it started when I came into the Administration after the “Snowden Disclosures” in 2013. Around the world, governments needed assurance that the U.S. respected personal information, and European lawmakers even suggested that they should stop European data transfers to the U.S.

Governments around the world also started arguing that there was an unfair playing field for their organizations, claiming that they had to follow strict privacy rules, while U.S. organizations did not.

We realized at that time that organizations would need a better way to tackle privacy. Without better solutions, governments could use domestically based privacy laws to drive digital trade and data storage to be localized in their own countries. For example, if startups did not have better privacy technology, they would not be able to compete on the world stage.

The Answer: Data Protection-as-a-Service

We built WireWheel to empower organizations to be diligent caretakers of the digital footprints people leave behind in everything they do. And, the WireWheel Privacy Management Platform does this by simplifying, structuring, and automating privacy programs.

WireWheel simplifies privacy by focusing privacy teams on the four central pillars of privacy protection that applies to any law, including GDPR, CCPA or any future Internet Bill of Rights:

The four central questions

These four central questions are:

  • What personal data are you collecting or observing?
  • Where are you storing that personal data?
  • Where are you processing that personal data?
  • With whom are you sharing that personal data, and for what purpose?

WireWheel then structures and automates your privacy program to efficiently collect the critical information from the systems and people around your organization and vendor networks.

The platform is centered around three modules:

  • WireWheel’s unique tasking and project management engine helps organizations stand up and manage privacy programs at scale. WireWheel includes frameworks and pre-configured workflows to easily manage and maintain a comprehensive privacy program.
  • WireWheel translates your existing technologies to make them usable for your privacy teams. For example, plug in your infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or data stores, and WireWheel can automatically spot data stores, processing, and personal data. In this way, you can think of WireWheel as the interface that translates your existing technologies into something that is really usable by your non-technical privacy teams.
  • WireWheel includes a “Privacy Studio,” that allows your privacy teams to build internal and external resources focused around privacy. And, the Privacy Studio integrates with WireWheel APIs to automate customer preference centers for preference management and customer data access, deletion, correction and portability.

With a single pane of glass, privacy and security teams now can create critical data and business process maps to make collaborative, informed decisions.

In this way, the WireWheel platform supports all phases of a global privacy management and compliance program including data inventories, privacy and data protection assessments, vendor risk management, “data subject” or customer data access, deletion, correction, and portability requests, and more.

And we have priced WireWheel’s platform to enable organizations of all sizes to get the benefit of our platform.

Enhancing the Privacy Experience

As WireWheel has grown we’ve brought on a team of privacy, cyber security and technology experts who have been in the trenches of managing privacy and IT programs. Key customers such as Under Armour and BlackBoard have provided critical feedback to make sure our solution matches their business needs.

In every development discussion we have, we focus on the privacy experience for our customers, ensuring that our technology is really usable by non-technical privacy leaders. The concept that “It Takes People to Protect Privacy,” has imbued our product development, hiring decisions and organizational culture.

At the end of the day, we ultimately believe that people will protect privacy, that organizations will help build trust, and people will get back in charge of their information.

And these movements, we hope, will be driven in part by WireWheel.



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