Q&A: IBM exec on breach notification laws, data security push
Companies must pay attention to how they secure their data, says Harriet Pearson
|Harriet P. Pearson, vice president of corporate affairs and chief privacy officer at IBM|
What sort of challenge does this pose for companies? There is no doubt that this new set of requirements around security breach notifications [is] now a high-priority item for security and privacy managers and the CIO. Part of the challenge is that there are 25 states [with breach notification laws]. If you look at each of them, you will see that each one is slightly or significantly different, and that does cause challenges. It creates the requirement that if you are doing business across states, you have to go through and try to rationalize them across states. So what kind of information is covered by the law that you have to comply with? There are different definitions of personal information across states. The triggers that require you to notify differ across states. And you have to figure out what the company is comfortable with using as a trigger. Because if you are doing business across the country, basically, I dont think you are going to sit down and [say], "Well, if it happened in Arkansas versus ... California, I am going to use radically different standards." The types of notices differ. The states are using different language [relating to] where you have to put it and who must be notified. I think the more interesting and very significant development here is that nobody wants to become really good at knowing how to notify when theres a breach. Its not a recipe for job success here. So I think whats happening is that at some level, the CFO or the [chief risk officer] or the compliance officer or somebody is going to turn to the CIO and say, "How do we stop this?"
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