Attorney General John Ashcroft last week appointed a chief privacy officer for the Justice Department and said that person will take a hard look at Carnivore, the FBI's electronic E-mail eavesdropping device. Ashcroft tapped associate deputy attorney general Dan Collins to serve as CPO for Justice, to "provide advice to senior department officials on privacy-related legal and policy issues," according to a statement. Collins will examine issues such as the privacy implications of law-enforcement technology, the Justice Department's obligation to protect the privacy of the information it acquires in its operations, its responsibility to protect personal privacy from unlawful invasion, and new legislation or regulations regarding privacy. Also, Collins will study DCS1000--the official name for Carnivore--and make recommendations about the need for modifications to the system. This guy's no slouch: He graduated from Harvard summa cum laude, got his law degree from Stanford, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, and served as assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles prior to working at Justice.
You think Carnivore's bad? Compare that with a study released last week by security service provider Vigilinx about the risks of doing business in Russia. According to what Vigilinx describes as a "threatscape" assessment of a three-year period, security risks in Russia have escalated since 1996, when then-president Boris Yeltsin ordered top state officials to close the technology gap with the West. According to Vigilinx CEO Bruce Murphy, the Russian government "advocates industrial espionage to close the technological gap with Western economies." The report says highly developed espionage and sabotage techniques are a Cold War legacy. The government controls almost all electronic paths in and out of Russia, the study says, and electronic monitoring is a fact of life. That means "the possibility that U.S. firms are already under active surveillance by Russian special services is very real."
The IT community lost one of its own with the recent passing of Bob DiStefano, managing director of IT at financial-services firm the Vanguard Group. DiStefano joined Vanguard in 1984 as VP of IS and was named a managing director in 1995. DiStefano, one of the financial-services industry's longest-tenured CIOs and widely considered to be an innovator in business technology, already had 15 years of IT experience in a variety of industries before joining Vanguard. DiStefano, who died of a heart attack, was only 52. For the time being, CEO John Brennan is overseeing IT.
IT training provider Global Knowledge last week tapped Eric Goldfarb as its new CIO. Prior to joining the Cary, N.C., company, Goldfarb was VP and CIO-CTO at MacMillan USA, a division of British media conglomerate Pearson. In that post, Goldfarb was responsible for the company's E-commerce and enterprise systems. At Global Knowledge, Goldfarb will oversee IT as well as help identify new markets and products.
Microsoft picked up a nice piece of business from Ford last week. The automaker bought 200 CPU licenses of BizTalk server, Microsoft's XML application-integration engine. It's the biggest sale yet of BizTalk, but Microsoft wouldn't dish on the dollar amount of the deal. Ford will use the BizTalk server in its "E-Hub" initiative, a real-time collaborative logistics and order-fulfillment system.
On the other hand, EDS doesn't expect revenue to pick up any time soon from General Motors, its former parent, which represents 15% of the IT services firm's business and is still its largest customer. Myrna Vance, EDS's managing director of investor relations, says EDS had been expecting revenue from GM to be flat for the second quarter, but it actually dropped a few percentage points due to the automaker's cutbacks in EDS-managed areas such as call-center operations and benefits administration.