Zero-Knowledge Systems was once known as the protector of the little guy, thanks to its Freedom Network.

But after closing the trace erasing service late last year, on the surface it seems to have gone corporate with its Enterprise

Privacy Manager software. John Beans, vice-president of product marketing for enterprise products, says it is still in the corner of the consumer, just on the other side of the fence. The only difference, he says, is it is protecting user data from inside the enterprise walls.

The product is called Enterprise Privacy Manager (EPM). According to the Montreal-based company it is designed to identify, analyze, manage and report on the location and handling of customer data throughout the company. Beans says one of the tasks EPM performs is translating paper-based instructions into something the system can use.

“”It allows you to write those English statements, but allows you to tie them to specific data and put them in a form other applications can understand,”” Beans says.

Mark Weidick, general manager, enterprise products, says while the company is primarily focused on the software side, there is also a services division. It specializes in data handling assessments and EPM training and integration.

“”(They) take on the up-front design work ultimately to be factored in to the small degree of customization typically required to install a piece of enterprise software at a customer site,”” Weidick says.

While world events of last fall played a role in seemingly every aspect of business, Beans says it had no appreciable effect on customer demand one way or the other. He surmises this was because privacy had been on a role before Sept. 11.

Beans says three kinds of companies have expressed the greatest interest in EPM: financial institutions, health care and online retailers. He says they are at the forefront because they are often the targets of government legislation. Weidick says a number of Canadian customers have expressed an interest in the product, but can’t release any names.

While spending remains tight, privacy is one area that probably won’t have its budget slashed. According to a report from Gartner, “”security, privacy and business continuity implementations in 2002 will receive the funding and resources they need, even as other areas of the enterprise shrink.””

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