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written by Jeff Fowler 

When I first opened my invitation to DMAW‘s 2012 annual meeting and noticed the title of the keynote presentation, “Your Privacy. . . Does It Really Exist?”, a word favored by my teenage son flashed through my mind: b o r i n g. Still, it had been some time since I had attended a DMAW meeting, so I steeled myself and dutifully registered, figuring I’d spend the time surreptitiously checking email and texting on my mobile while struggling to suppress yawns. I imagined a dry, factual session delivered by a pleasant, frumpy, spectacled, knowledgeable but humorless professor in dull monotone.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Mark Rasch – director of CyberSecurity and Privacy Consulting for CSC – knocked it out of the park with an electrifying presentation that was hugely entertaining and informative. Like most people in the audience, I had never seen nor heard of Mark before, but by the time he finished his performance, the picture in my mind had changed to my son’s second favorite expression: O M G!

Departing from conventional wisdom, Rasch opened his power-packed session with a joke that immediately put everyone at ease, but before our smiles faded he launched into a series of increasingly stunning facts interlaced with wonderfully self-deprecating humor and personal anecdotes. Some of his facts were astounding:

  • The average person in Washington DC is captured on camera 26 times or more each day.
  • There are electronic tracking devices that emulate cell phone towers, and software that monitors consumer shopping behavior at the mall via their cell phone signal.
  • Technology exists that uses facial recognition combined with cloud-based searches to identify consumers within seconds, returning personal details such as name & address, phone number, birthdate, and – a whopping 13% of the time – the full social security number!

As he continued, our mild apprehension over the amount and type of personal information available to government officials, marketers, and hackers deepened into serious concern, and by the time he finished there were audible gasps of amazement.

Mark’s presentation is not only mandatory for direct marketers to attend; it truly applies to everybody everywhere. Just as the 1975 movie Jaws gave us nightmares about swimming in the ocean, Your Privacy. . . Does It Really Exist? is guaranteed to leave you shocked and afraid to touch your computer.

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Jeff Fowler is president and founder of Decision Software, provider of marketing services and their powerful MarketWide™ campaign management software. DSI is based in Landover, MD. He can be reached at  jfowler@dsoftware.biz.

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