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By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2003-12-01 Print this article Print

Software vendors in general have been slower to come around to the need for privacy protection and related tools than they have to the need for security. However, Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., for one, uses an internal system known as the Privacy Health Index to score individual groups on compliance with established privacy policies for the software development process. Low scores can lead to budget cuts or projects being canceled altogether.

Privacy advocates say IBM is on the right track with its approach and say it may encourage other companies to follow suit.

"Privacy has been slow around the technology side. Its been glacial movement. I hope some of this takes a faster track," said Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, in Washington. "The first step in protecting privacy is knowing where the data goes to and from. The goal is using data effectively. Companies are realizing privacy isnt just customers yelling and screaming—it can be used to pick up business."

The new tool from IBM is one piece of a larger privacy initiative that includes the development of EPAL (Enterprise Privacy Authorization Language), an emerging standard for privacy policies, and upgrades to the Tivoli Privacy Manager product. IBM next year plans to release a plug-in for Privacy Manager that will be able to monitor SAP AG implementations. More monitors will be forthcoming next year, as will more pilot implementations of EPAL.

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