IBM Corp. has formed the Privacy Institute and the Privacy Management Council, two initiatives designed to promote secure data management and to protect consumer information, the company said Monday.
The Privacy Institute, which will be headed by Michael Waidner and funded by IBM's core business units, will research and develop technologies to help ensure privacy in the areas of e-commerce, mobile computing, knowledge management, and intrusion detection, according to IBM officials.
Research will take place in IBM's eight labs around the world, and will specifically focus on developing software for managing and distributing personal data based on a company's policies and its customers' preferences, and technology to help businesses let their customers control how much information is revealed in an e-commerce transaction.
The institute will create an external advisory board comprised of technology, government, and policy experts, officials said.
The second IBM initiative, the Privacy Management Council, plans to leverage knowledge of experts in key industries such as finance, health care, government and travel. These individuals will offer input to IBM for building future versions of its Tivoli privacy management software, officials said.
Founding members of the Privacy Management Council include officials from Deloitte & Touche LLP, Fidelity Investments Inc., the U.S. Department of Commerce, The Travelers Insurance Company, Marriott International Inc., T. Rowe Price Investment Services Inc., Novant Health Inc. and Telus Corp., IBM said.
The council will be chaired by IBM Chief Privacy Officer Harriet Pearson.
One head of a privacy advocacy group said that these initiatives are further examples of the emphasis IBM places on privacy. The company was one of the first large corporations to appoint a chief privacy officer, in November of last year.
"The leaders in the company have been very vocal (in saying) that solving the privacy problem is key to the success of e-commerce and the deployment of the Internet," said Stephen Keating, executive director of the Privacy Foundation in Denver.
However, Keating pointed out that a number of vendors, including Microsoft, are developing technology aimed at helping consumers control their personal information. These services must be interoperable in order to be truly useful, he said.
"Companies are announcing privacy as not just an obligation (to their customers) but as a value-added service," Keating said. "Hopefully, there won't be one company that controls all of that, but a number of companies pursuing those solutions."