1 Privacy engineering: Why it’s needed, how to scale it


This chapter covers

  • What privacy means
  • How privacy is impacted by the flow of data through your tech stack and storage
  • Why privacy matters and how it affects your business
  • Clarity on privacy tooling, especially the “build vs. buy” debate
  • What this book does not do
  • How the role of engineers has changed in recent years

Over the last few years, privacy seems to have been front and center in the news. There is talk of new laws aimed at protecting customers from harm and reports of data breaches and fines being levied upon companies.

People at all levels of business are finding this unsettling, and understandably so. Many company founders are engineers or technologists; they are finding it hard to assess risks related to products that depend on data collection. There are other mid-level engineers in companies who write code and build other automation. They make many smaller decisions, and their technical outcomes, when multiplied by scale, can create shareholder and investor risk. Such tech leaders are right to wonder, “what decisions am I making that may have a privacy impact down the line, just as my strategy is about to bear fruit?”

1.1 What is privacy?

1.2 How data flows into and within your company

1.3 Why privacy matters

1.3.1 The fines are real

1.3.2 Early-stage efficiency wins can cause late-stage privacy headaches

1.3.3 Privacy investigations could be more than a speed bump

1.3.4 Privacy process can unlock business opportunities: A real-life example

1.4 Privacy: A mental model

1.5 How privacy affects your business at a macro level

1.5.1 Privacy and safety: The COVID edition

1.5.2 Privacy and regulations: A cyclical process