IBM Names Its First Chief Privacy Officer



IBM has named Harriet Pearson as its first chief privacy officer, a position created to develop and support privacy standards within the company.

Pearson, who has worked on public policy issues at IBM since 1993, will ensure that the company complies with privacy laws regarding its partnerships and consumer relationships. She will oversee the development of IBM products and services geared toward securing consumer information in databases, on the Internet, and in traditional settings. Pearson also faces the huge task of getting all of IBM's global businesses to adhere to a standardized privacy policy that "handles consumer data in a respectful and proactive manner," Pearson says.

Chief privacy officer is a new position at IBM, but several other companies have already added someone to their payroll to ensure they are being smart about protecting customers' personal information. Last March, after facing privacy-invasion class-action lawsuits and an inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission, DoubleClick formed a privacy board and appointed Jules Polonetsky, an ex-commissioner to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as its chief privacy officer. Internet media company [email protected] also added a chief privacy officer to its staff.

Pearson says more executives will add the title to their resumes as companies begin to address privacy issues. "Privacy executives are part of a trend that's a long time coming," Pearson says. "Other companies have moved in this direction -- IBM is just one of the largest."

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