Providian Financial Corp. has named Marc Loewenthal to the new position of chief privacy officer, the company said Wednesday.

Providian said it created the position as a response to federal privacy regulations that were put in place a few weeks ago as part of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Banks will have until July 1, 2001, to be in compliance.

Mr. Loewenthal, a senior vice president who leads the customer relations group, said the position formalizes a role he has filled for the past year.

"We have been very proactive in the area of customer privacy and have made it a part of our customer satisfaction program," he said.

Last summer Mr. Loewenthal helped write the San Francisco-based company's privacy statement, which was sent to customers and posted on its Web site.

A number of other banking companies, particularly large credit card lenders, recently appointed privacy czars to help them comply with the new laws and to address consumer sensitivity about data protection.

"We want to make sure that customers know we don't sell their information," Mr. Loewenthal said.

Providian says it regularly updates its customer privacy policies to ensure they meet or exceed regulations. Mr. Loewenthal will assess marketing initiatives and operations across all business lines to see that they comply with federal and state privacy laws.

"Consumers should know that Providian will vigorously protect the personal information they entrust to us," Providian chairman, president, and chief executive officer Shailesh Mehta said in a statement

Mr. Loewenthal, a former lawyer, joined Providian in 1991. He reports to chief public policy officer Konrad Alt.

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