On any given day, IBM Corporation’s new chief privacy officer Christina Peters could look through The New York Times and find an article to jumpstart a conversation about privacy. On Monday—when IBM announced her appointment—the story Peters chose to blog about happened to be on pediatricians turning to social media and texting to reach teen patients. Her reaction to the trend was mixed. “I have a teenager and I know how difficult that age cohort can be to reach,” she told CorpCounsel.com in an interview. But she also wondered: “How do I feel about that? How do I feel about that line of communication opening up, and what’s the right answer?” Peters doesn’t think she’s alone in asking these questions about the ever-increasing integration of technology and people’s daily lives. And she says this particular example “underscores” the approach to privacy she thinks we need to take. “Let’s look at new tools, let’s understand how they might work, let’s focus on using technology to address problems that we’ve been struggling with,” she says, “but let’s also be mindful, and let’s also not think that we’re always going to be able to find a one-size-fits-all approach.” A member of IBM’s legal department since 1996, Peters joined the company’s privacy team in 2010 under CPO Harriet Pearson. Now, as she takes over for Pearson—who recently departed for Hogan Lovells—big data and analytics are top of mind. Posting on the company blog, she wrote:
New analytics technologies make it possible for companies to better understand customers and their needs, and to personalize offers and services. Yet, at the same time, risks to privacy are real. It’s important for sensitive personal information to be protected and for people to be aware of how information they share will be used, so they can make decisions about what’s okay with them and what isn’t.