Internet service provider EarthLink on Wednesday named Les Seagraves as its chief privacy officer. In doing so, it joins a growing group of Internet, software and computer companies that have established such a position to answer criticism by consumers and advocacy groups, who say technology companies aren't doing enough to protect their private information.
The federal government is also looking to make a similar appointment. Congress is considering proposals for a government-wide chief information officer to manage information and technology policies.
An uproar over the handling of private information by high-profile companies such as DoubleClick and RealNetworks has sparked a number of lawsuits. Suits also have been filed against failed Web businesses Living.com and Toysmart, charging that the companies sold or tried to sell customers' private information.
EarthLink's naming of a chief privacy officer is part of its efforts to protect customers' private information, the company said. Related activities include the filtering of unsolicited email, or spam, and the work of a network-abuse prevention team.
Seagraves joined the sales division of EarthLink's predecessor, MindSpring, in October 1995, leaving a private law practice. He helped create MindSpring's customer service department in 1996 and joined the legal department after MindSpring and EarthLink merged in February of this year.