Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

By Harriet Pearson

Today’s society is built on the fast flow and analysis of bits and bytes of information. The strides we make in gathering, routing, and analyzing this torrent of data holds the promise of an ever-brighter future. Still, behind these data are real people, real organizations, and real concerns, so we need to reconcile the competing goals of free information flow and individual privacy.

To support the ongoing discussion of this critical issue, IBM is joining other leading global businesses, non-profits, individuals and governments in celebrating international Data Privacy Day.

HarrietPearson_smallDigital privacy can seem elusive. If you’re a consumer, it can be difficult to figure out what information companies have about you, or where they’re getting it, or how they’re might use it. If you’re a business or government leader, it can be hard to figure out how to  responsibly use the personal data concerning individuals to do things such as conserve energy, reduce traffic congestion and suppress crime.

What’s at stake? Plenty. Getting data privacy “right” is an economic and social imperative. Trust and confidence in the security and privacy of the critical systems of our planet – especially the digital version of its central nervous system, the Internet – is foundational to individuals’ continued engagement and reliance on such things as online commerce, e-health and smart grids. If individual consumers don’t feel that their privacy and security are protected, they will not support modernization efforts, even though the capabilities of technology advancements are proven and the potential benefits to society are extensive.

Here’s an example of the tensions we face: The ability of smart grids to conserve resources relies on the ability of, and commitment from, consumers to monitor and modify their individual usage. An individual using a smart meter understands the difference in the cost of using electricity at peak versus non-peak hours and could opt to lower their usage during more costly time periods. At the same time, data from the meters can reveal sensitive information such as work habits, shower schedules, use of medical devices such as dialysis, and whether or not a house is occupied.

So, how does society move ahead with smart grids and other technology advances that rely upon individual or personal data, while addressing consumer privacy?

We need to foster new partnerships between governments and industry. One goal must be to build balanced commercial privacy policy frameworks that make it simple to share and analyze information responsibly, especially when it crosses borders.  An important element of such frameworks is the idea of industries voluntarily adopting enforceable privacy-protecting codes of conduct. We welcome some promising new thinking along these lines that is coming from the Obama administration.

We need to improve awareness of threats to privacy among people of all ages. People need to know how to protect their own personal data and how to properly manage data that relates to others. Within IBM, we mandate information security education for all employees from senior executive to recent hire, and have tailored a Privacy: What you Need to Know course for all employees who may handle personal data. IBM is also producing technology that allows people to give out just the information they want to share and no more–some of which is being showcased in a new data privacy research initiative, ABC4TRUST.

We need to foster widespread adoption of the principles of Privacy by Design. That’s the idea that organizations should build new technology systems and business processes from the ground up to protect privacy–rather than trying to tack protections on later. Our analytics guru Jeff Jonas is speaking today at the preeminent global conference on this topic.

New privacy-protective technologies. A focus on innovation-friendly, business-ready privacy protection in government policy. Informed and enabled employees and consumers. These are the elements that must work together to protect individual privacy, support economic growth and clear the path for innovative, world-changing uses of data.

And then we’ll really have something to celebrate.

Harriet Pearson is VP Security Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer at IBM


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2 Comments
 
June 26, 2011
3:45 am

Awesome… 5 star idea…I did notice the Feed had not been functioning, anyone else notice this kind of thing, or is it simply myself. used HTC Touch Diamond 2


Posted by: michael04
 
February 16, 2011
2:07 pm

nice articles and very informative ! especially for me !


Posted by: free info
 
9 Trackbacks
 
November 19, 2012
4:03 pm

[...] decades, IBM has been a leader on issues of personal privacy. We anticipate our own information needs and the impact of new technology as it ripples out into [...]


Posted by: Amitech Solutions » Let’s Move Forward on Privacy in the Era of Big Data
 
November 6, 2012
11:09 am

[...] decades, IBM has been a leader on issues of personal privacy. We anticipate our own information needs and the impact of new technology as it ripples out into [...]


Posted by: Let's Move Forward on Privacy in the Era of Big Data - Institute for Advanced Security - Expert Blogs - IBM Institute for Advanced Security
 
October 15, 2012
11:31 am

[...] decades, IBM has been a leader on issues of personal privacy. We anticipate our own information needs and the impact of new technology as it ripples out into [...]


Posted by: Let’s Move Forward on Privacy in the Era of Big Data « A Smarter Planet Blog
 
April 8, 2011
2:17 pm

[...] Pearson, Chief Privacy Officer at IBM (a big Internet of Things participant), articulated well the tension between technology innovation and privacy in [...]


Posted by: European Union Signs Internet of Things Privacy Framework – readwriteweb « Howl
 
April 7, 2011
6:00 pm

[...] Pearson, Chief Privacy Officer at IBM (a big Internet of Things participant), articulated well the tension between technology innovation and privacy in January. See also: How 50 Billion Connected Devices Could Transform Brand Marketing & [...]


Posted by: European Union Signs Internet of Things Privacy Framework | Scripting4U Blog
 
April 7, 2011
4:17 pm

[...] Pearson, Chief Privacy Officer at IBM (a big Internet of Things participant), articulated well the tension between technology innovation and privacy in January. See also: How 50 Billion Connected Devices Could Transform Brand Marketing & [...]


Posted by: European Union Signs Internet of Things Privacy Framework | JetLib News
 
January 28, 2011
5:38 pm

[...] of the largest companies are doing (via ReadWriteWeb) and I agree with Marshall Kirkpatrick that IBM’s post today is outstanding. Google published a ton of links and as many of us know, Facebook rolled out HTTPS earlier this [...]


Posted by: Data Privacy Day 2011 – Celebrating the Privacy We Need Year-Round | VXML Solutions
 
January 28, 2011
7:48 am

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dataprivacyday, HPPearson. HPPearson said: A message for the day (January 28 marks Data Privacy Day). http://lnkd.in/CcHVeM [...]


Posted by: Tweets that mention Data Privacy Day: How to Balance Privacy and the Free Flow of Information | A Smarter Planet Blog -- Topsy.com
 
January 28, 2011
7:16 am

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ruchi, Endiyan Rakhmanda. Endiyan Rakhmanda said: Happy Data Privacy Day poeple! : How to Balance Privacy and the Free Flow of Information http://tinyurl.com/5uzdlst [...]


Posted by: Tweets that mention Data Privacy Day: How to Balance Privacy and the Free Flow of Information | A Smarter Planet Blog -- Topsy.com
 
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