Explore IAPP: Membership & Organization

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IAPP Membership

The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) is a household name in the field of privacy protection. As the world’s largest and most comprehensive global information privacy community and resource, IAPP strives to help privacy professionals like you with your career development and advancement.

That’s right—you don’t have to manage the complex, rapidly evolving information economy alone! IAPP brings together the people, tools, and global information management practices you need to be successful in your career.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into IAPP. If you’re curious about the history of IAPP, its offerings, and IAPP membership, you’ve come to the right place.

About the IAPP Organization

Let’s start from the beginning. The IAPP is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2000. Consistent with the uncertainty surrounding Y2K that we can all remember (and try to forget), the IAPP went through several name changes in its early stages.

Originally established as the Privacy Officers Association (POA), it became the International Association of Privacy Offers (IAPO) in 2002, after merging with a competing group, the Association of Corporate Privacy Officers (ACPO). In 2003, it finally landed on the name we know today, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, or rather, IAPP.

President and CEO of the IAPP, J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP, is globally recognized as a leading privacy expert and has more than two decades under his belt at IAPP—he joined in 2002 as an executive director. Hughes is one of six executive committee members, and one of 16 on the board of directors.

As of January 2024, the IAPP surpassed a total of 80,000 members across 149 countries. As these numbers continue to grow, in correlation with the demand for privacy professionals, the mission of the IAPP remains the same: to define, promote, and improve the privacy profession globally.

What Does the IAPP Offer?

Take one, quick glance at the IAPP website, and you’ll find there’s no shortage of training and resources available. You’ll also find they host conferences, webinars, and other events, providing the opportunity to connect with the IAPP community.

In addition, the IAPP has developed and launched the only globally recognized credentialing programs in information privacy and data protection.

Let’s explore these offerings further.

IAPP Resources

The IAPP offers a robust library of research, tools, and trackers to help keep you up to speed as privacy protection laws, regulations, standards, and best practices continually evolve.

Many of these resources are available to the public, allowing you to at least skim the surface. However, an IAPP membership will grant you access to all of the great educational content and research they have to offer, in its entirety.

Oh, and one final note on research. The IAPP created the IAPP Westin Research Center in 2013. Yes, it’s named after that Westin—Dr. Alan Westin, a foundational scholar in privacy. Select recent graduates can participate in the Westin Fellowship program, in which they’ll dedicate 12 months to privacy research projects. Needless to say, the IAPP is serious about privacy research.

IAPP Events

Whether you prefer in-person or virtual events, the IAPP offers plenty of opportunities to connect with other privacy professionals, and learn trends and best practices from the best of the best.

Likely the most widely known event is the annual IAPP Global Privacy Summit, i.e., the world’s largest forum for exploring privacy protection. If that description alone doesn’t entice you, the VIP list of keynote speakers will. The summit has hosted some of the industry’s top keynote speakers, including policy makers, authors, and technologists, like author Malcolm Gladwell and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

On a smaller scale, you can also attend IAPP community events. These events, which are free for members, offer opportunities for networking, education, and idea sharing with other privacy professionals in your area.

IAPP Certification

Certification has become a privacy industry standard, with IAPP at the helm, offering the only globally recognized credentialing programs in information privacy and data protection.

Currently, the IAPP offers the following certifications: Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP), Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM), and Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT). This list is likely to evolve to keep up with the times. For example, the IAPP recently announced its newest certification, covering the intersection of personal data use and artificial intelligence, called the Certified AI Governance Professional (AIGP) certification.

As more and more companies list certification as a job requirement, it’s apparent that IAPP certification is worth it. In 2019, the IAPP celebrated the issuance of its 25,000th certification. While the IAPP has not released any updated numbers since, with thousands obtaining IAPP certification annually, it is safe to say this number is much bigger in 2024. Milestones like this have only further solidified the industry’s recognition of the IAPP’s certification programs as a demonstration of a privacy professional’s knowledge and skills.

Also reported in 2019—the IAPP hit 50,000 members worldwide. Compare that to its 15,000 members in 2014, and 80,000 in 2024. Growth like that is enough to make your head spin…or at least read on to the next section.

IAPP Membership

So, what’s the big deal? Why are so many privacy professionals seeking an IAPP membership?

As a member, you’ll gain access to a community of like-minded professionals, exclusive content, expert analysis, legislative alerts, reporting, and free or discounted events and training.

If you decide to pursue an IAPP certification, you’ll have the option to purchase an IAPP membership upon passing your exam to meet requirements and validate your certification. Financially, this option makes a lot of sense, as there’s a certification maintenance fee for nonmembers, which is otherwise included in your membership benefits.

IAPP membership can give you a leg up in the field of privacy protection. But at what cost? We’re glad you asked.

Rates for IAPP Membership

There are a few options for IAPP membership, including individual membership, corporate membership, and group membership.

As an individual, there are currently six annual memberships to choose from, with pricing as follows (USD):

A corporate membership provides membership access to a full team of employees. Companies like Google, Adobe, Capital One, Uber, Nike, Salesforce, and Walmart have signed on for corporate membership.

Similarly, group memberships are offered, allowing special group pricing for government agencies and not-for-profit organizations.

Determining which membership option is right for you will depend on your individual needs, status, and your employer.

Conclusion: Help IAPP Help You

The IAPP has a lot to offer privacy professionals—from certification, to membership, and all of the research and community benefits in between. From its inception in the early 2000s, the organization has grown exponentially, with more than tens of thousands of certified professionals, and even more members.

Knowing there’s an established organization dedicated to privacy professionals provides peace of mind. Because, let’s face it—it can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing field of privacy protection.

Through IAPP membership and certification, you can enhance your career as a privacy professional and have confidence that you’re keeping up with the latest trends and best practices in the industry.

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