An Eye on Privacy

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2003-04-21 Print this article Print

eWEEK Labs looks at IT's roles in safeguarding data and privacy.

There are some supremely knotty questions surrounding the issues of privacy, especially for enterprise IT professionals, whose very jobs put them in the unique and sometimes perilous position of having to protect data on many fronts.

"Privacy for Data Systems," the topic of an invitation-only symposium held earlier this month at IBMs Almaden Research Center, explored some of the privacy challenges faced by enterprises and the role IT managers have to play in ensuring that private data is secured.

Sept. 11, 2001, shone a glaring spotlight on privacy. People who had never given a second thought to privacy were suddenly willing to give it up because of terrorism fears.

Things have become a bit more balanced since then, but the issue of who has the right to know what—and who has the right to obscure what—can be complex, troubling and potentially dangerous for companies that dont have their organizational culture, policies and technical systems in order.

IT managers should start a discussion on privacy that enables company management to remain at least a step ahead of the many privacy regulations that are likely to emerge during the next several years. IT experts, for example, are uniquely positioned to advocate data storage and access policies that protect customers and employees from the kinds of increased surveillance activities that are being developed by organizations including DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the FBI.

Rakesh Agrawal, chairman of the Almaden symposium and IBM fellow, spoke with eWEEK Labs about some of the tough data privacy questions facing IT.

"Until now, the question has been how to make sure data was stored and accessible," said Agrawal at the symposium, in San Jose, Calif. "Now, we think about how to make databases forget information that is no longer needed. We are working on the question of associating information about data expiry."

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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