IBM appoints chief privacy officer

By : |November 29, 2000 0

NEW YORK: Computer giant International Business Machines Corp. on Wednesday
named Harriet Pearson as its first chief privacy officer in a bid to strengthen
the company’s role in consumer privacy protection.

The Armonk, NY-based company said that Pearson will bring together IBM’s
privacy and programs, including research and development, marketing, sales,
IBM’s Web strategy, and technology and policy efforts.

She will also coordinate the development of IBM technology and services
offerings for privacy and will ensure that the company complies with laws and
standards as consumer privacy guidelines evolve.

                                 

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The move comes amid growing concerns that electronic commerce will fail to
get off the ground on privacy fears because consumers are yet to feel safe about
giving out personal data online.

"We know that one of the great conundrums of e-business is that it gives
enterprises a powerful new capability to capture and analyze massive amounts of
customer information so they can serve individual customers more
effectively," said IBM chief executive officer Louis V Gerstner in a
statement.

"Yet this very capability troubles some people, who see it as a means to
disclose or exploit their personal information. These are legitimate and very
real concerns, and they must be addressed if the world of e-business is to reach
its full potential."

A recent report by the University of California at Los Angeles said that
almost two-thirds of US Internet users and more than three-quarters of non-users
say going online is a threat to privacy.

A whopping 97.8 per cent of Internet users who have not purchased online
expressed some concern about security of credit card information, according to
the report. And more than nine out of 10 Internet users are "somewhat or
very concerned" about credit card security, the study said.

IBM said that Pearson has directed IBM’s involvement in several areas of
public policy, including privacy, healthcare and consumer protection.

She also chairs the Privacy Committee of the Information Technology Industry
Council and serves on the board of the Internet Education Foundation.

(C) Reuters Limited 2000.

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