Microsoft picks new chief privacy strategist

Peter Cullen, who has helped make privacy and security a mantra at Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada Financial Group, will join Microsoft Corp. next month as its new chief privacy strategist.

In an announcement Monday, Microsoft said Cullen, 44, will bring his longtime background in privacy and data protection to help move the company's Trustworthy Computing initiative forward. He will join Microsoft on July 14.

Scott Charney, Microsoft's chief Trustworthy Computing strategist, said Cullen will help the company improve best practices and increase protection of personal information. Cullen, who will report to Charney, will begin with a staff of four. He will communicate with people working on privacy issues and best practices throughout Microsoft to help bring about improvements, Charney said.

"Privacy is really critical moving forward," Charney said. "IT lowers the price point of disseminating data," which can then be transmitted without the subject of the data even knowing it is happening, he said. "So we really need to focus on privacy ... if IT's going to fulfill its promise."

Cullen "has the experience to drive Microsoft's commitment to privacy protections to the next level," Charney said. "Peter will be an effective advocate for strong and innovative consumer privacy safeguards."

Cullen replaces Richard Purcell, who left Microsoft several months ago, said spokesman Sean Sundwall. Microsoft wanted a high-profile IT leader to take the job, and it wanted someone with a proven track record, he said.

While at Royal Bank, Cullen coordinated the management of privacy across RBC Financial Group and oversaw the development and application of customer privacy and use of information practices and policies, according to the bank.

He also implemented an integrated privacy management/compliance structure for U.S. operations, which included six affiliate companies. As a result, Cullen helped RBC become recognized as a North American leader in the area of privacy management, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, announced in January 2002, has the aim of helping to make technology more trustworthy so that it can better realize its potential to enhance people's lives. The initiative is focused on four key pillars: security, privacy, reliability and business integrity.

In a statement, Cullen said, "Microsoft has placed a priority on privacy, and I look forward to applying my experience in developing innovative privacy practices and programs to deliver high-quality technologies and services to our customers and partners."

Cullen holds a master's degree from Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. He has worked for the bank since November 1976 and has an extensive retail banking background.

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