IBM Takes on Privacy

Chief Privacy Officer Harriet Pearson discusses issues facing IBM and its customers.

Harriet Pearson
Since Harriet Pearson was appointed IBMs first chief privacy officer two years ago, she has dedicated herself to creating privacy policies and initiatives that strengthen IBMs efforts to protect personal data for its employees and customers. Pearson has also focused on developing products that pay attention to privacy—in particular, products from IBMs Tivoli group.

IBMs commitment to privacy is evident in its choice of focus for this years Almaden Institute: Privacy for Data Systems. The institute is an annual event designed to encourage research and development in a particular area. This years event, held at the IBM Almaden Research Center, in San Jose, Calif., drew technologists, researchers and IT executives from organizations ranging from Warner Brothers Co. to the University of California, Berkeley.

eWEEK Labs Senior Writer Anne Chen and Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant spoke with Pearson—who is also IBMs human resources vice president for work force effectiveness—at the Almaden institute earlier this month. (A longer version of this interview can be found online at

What do you hope to achieve as chief privacy officer at IBM?

My role as chief privacy officer is to be ultimately responsible for having the right leadership policies in place for how we manage data, both on our own behalf for employees and for customers.

Second, its also to make sure we have—coordinated across the company—a unified strategy with respect to technology and how we, whether its through research or products, make sure we have a common viewpoint and ... a leadership viewpoint in privacy technologies.

And third, my goal is to lead our work in public policy and in industry groups to ensure that we are participating responsibly and appropriately in developing industry standards and public policy contributions.