Privacy, or the lack of it, is the paramount concern of Americans wading into the fathomless waters of the Web. Survey after survey shows that while consumers embrace IT, they are concerned about its potential to compromise their privacy. People worry about the confidentiality of their medical records—who has access to them and for what purpose? Once their financial transactions live online, once their consumer preferences are encoded, who can guarantee where those digitalized snapshots will surface?
Businesses are now taking such concerns seriously. A growing number of companies are hiring chief privacy officers (see “Oh No, Not Another O!” Page 88). And in the health-care arena, CIOs are grappling with the challenge of making electronic medical information as secure as technologically possible while making sure that it’s accessible to those who can best use it (see “Invasive Procedures,” Page 76). Pulling off this balancing act will be the central IT drama of the next several years.