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Privacy, Past and Present with Alan Chapell

Today I am joined with Alan Chapell, Founder of Chapell and Associates. Alan shares how he got into privacy, the changes Alan has witnessed over the years in the industry, how transparency issues regarding adware and spyware shaped where we are today, how much we are actually protected and how much we should trust companies that have our data, GDPR, and even more dirty dark secrets in advertising.


[2:57] Alan’s first job in the privacy universe was at a small direct marketing firm in Stamford, Connecticut. While working with a bank, he was surprised at how much information on their customers in the data file was accessible without a safeguarding procedure in place.

[5:35] Fun fact: Alan wrote jingles for Indian television!

[5:51] In 2000 Alan put his aspirations of being an internet lawyer on hold and went into email marketing and tech sales. In November of 2003 refocused on work in the CAN-SPAM territory, and around 2006 he built a good book of business built around the ad spyware space.

[7:43] Alan and I discuss past conflation and consumer tech issues in the ad tech ecosystem. Companies would give you free internet access in trade for access to gaining information on personal property and often times misuse this privilege by selling it to other companies. There were also a number of entities placing software on desktops creating downstream issues that had the average user thinking that they “broke their internet.” In addition, those companies were also popping ads over the existing ads on websites, interfering with intellectual property.

[11:29] The current dirty dark secret in ad space is that we are not even sure as agencies, advertisers and brands that the reported views are seen by a human being.

[15:13] Mark Zuckerberg was able with some level of success to deflect attention away from what Facebook was doing in terms of collecting and utilizing data, and their failure to adequately monitor the machine they have created, and instead blame it on the third parties.

[16:06] Alan discusses the number-one challenge and complaint of every privacy professional, extending influence within the organization, along with the watershed moments in the digital media privacy world.

[21:54] The NAI Code of Conduct has had a large impact on web-based data collection and use.

[25:17] The Google I/O opens up a new privacy issue of disclosing the fact that you are actually speaking with a robot and not an actual human. Google Smart Lock is also another new creation where consumers must be aware where their information is going, and who has access to it.

[28:01] Alan and I discuss the current state of data privacy, and the need for way more education and information for those holding roles at both federal and state legislation.

[34:01] Alan talks about how we consolidate GDPR for a brand or a marketing agency. GDPR calls for all data, including personal data, to be encompassed by the law.

[37:05] Alan compares consent to Fool’s Gold due to the imbalance of power between those collecting and those giving personal data. As it relates to consent pop-ups on video games, If no isn’t a valid option, how valid is yes.

[44:59] “Life experience” is a part of that person’s private information that should be protected but isn’t. Examples of life experiences regarding personal data and privacy are graduation, marriage, divorce.

[47:57] Alan thinks the trade press is a vehicle for wonderful ideas, but when it comes to privacy or using them as a primary news source, it often garners misinformation and hyperbole for the sake of click bait.

[48:39] Alan recommends some sights for those interested in learning more on privacy: The International Association of Privacy Professionals has a good overview on GDPR and the Future of Privacy Form.

[58:08] Second fun fact! Alan is an accomplished musician, and has been picked up by a division of BMG. Catch him August 16 at the City Winery in New York!