Vendors probe industry experts for privacy pointers

Canadians could have an impact on future privacy technology from IBM and Tivoli.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based Big Blue is forming a Privacy Council and Privacy Institute that will gather chief privacy officers and security executives from a variety of industries to work with IBM to help mold future privacy management software from Tivoli. The Institute, comprised of public and private sector privacy experts, will focus on developing privacy and data protection technologies for e-business, pervasive and mobile computing and intrusion detection.

Telus vice-president and privacy officer Drew McArthur is serving on the Council, while Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, is part of the Institute.

Doug MacPherson, security sales specialist for Tivoli Canada, says Council members will have a 12- to 20-day commitment to discuss their concerns and problems.

“They’re going to identify issues they want to look at and if not come to resolutions and agreement, at least make sure that all the issues are on the table,” says MacPherson. “They’ll be talking to both experts within Tivoli and IBM because a lot of the issues they bring up will probably extend beyond just product.”

McArthur says has two goals he hopes to achieve. One is to share information with other members about the challenges in dealing with the consumer environment and privacy and dealing on the Web. The other is to investigate the technology IBM is developing and determine if it will meet some of the requirements of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Canada’s electronic privacy law.

While McArthur says he isn’t sure how soon he can expect to see any positive results from the Council, he says he is expecting to beta test software in the first quarter of 2002.

While the privacy Council is dominated by North American members, the Institute is international. Representatives come from Sweden to Italy to Australia to Japan. Debera Tomalty, chief privacy officer, IBM Canada, says this was necessary because needs vary by region.

How the success will be measured is difficult to say. Tomalty says the advisory board will tell IBM if it is coming up with useful insights or useful products, but adds measuring research is a tricky and don’t expect results tomorrow.

“You can’t always judge things by did they come up with something in three months. It doesn’t work that way,” Tomalty says. “Sometimes you spent a lot of money and you don’t get anything out of it, and sometime you spend a little bit and get a lot. That’s just the nature of a research adventure. I don’t imagine we’ll be trying to make too many qualitative judgements within the first year or so.

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