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This article was prepared for the
September 12, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Caveats for Gathering New Economy Information
Harold (Chip) Jerry, now a principal in the 731
Road law firm of Jerry & Jerry, spent nearly a decade and a half in
banking beginning in the early 1980s. From that vantage point, he
saw that collection of customer data was a common — and lucrative
— practice. "That was my introduction to data processing,"
The banks for which Jerry worked as legal counsel began to add more
and more products throughout the 1980s. Institutions once prohibited
from doing much more than setting up passbook accounts and making
loans began offering business checking accounts, insurance, brokerage
services, estate management, electronic banking, Internet banking,
"As the barriers broke down, banks saw they could market other
products to existing customers," Jerry says. Banks invested
in data mining software, and enthusiastically found out all they could
about customer’s banking habits. Customers, meanwhile, were rarely
aware that data they had submitted, and transactions they had
were being used as marketing tools.
Banks weren’t the only businesses that gathered customer data.
of all kinds have used customer data to cross-sell their products
for decades, and any number of companies have boosted their bottom
lines substantially by selling customer information. "Companies
in the old economy — the pre-Internet economy — routinely
did what the Internet companies now are doing," says Jerry.
always gathered information, and they often sold it." So why the
uproar over these practices on the Internet?
"What the Internet is doing," says Jerry, "is making
aware of how much information is available." Traffic violations,
criminal records, home addresses, phone numbers, voter registration,
it’s all oh-so-easy to call up on the Internet. "People thought
they were anonymous, invisible," says Jerry. "But not
The information individuals are appalled to find available to
anyone has long been accessible to those who knew how to look.
used to have to hire an investigator," says Jerry. But now anyone
with Internet access can call up his daughter’s boyfriend’s arrest
record or find out the selling price for the house next door.
Jerry explains how to "Protect Yourself in CyberSpace: Legal
for Business," when he addresses the Princeton Chamber of Commerce
on Wednesday, September 19, at 7:30 a.m. at the Nassau Club. Also
law firm of Miller & Mitchell. Cost: $21. Call 609-520-1776.
Jerry studied history, specifically the intellectual history of 19th
and 20th century Europe, at Princeton (Class of 1969). A member of
the university’s press club, he briefly considered a career in
but found the need "to turn everything into news" distasteful.
A conscientious objector, he took two years out from law school to
work in a hospital during the Vietnam War. He graduated from Columbia
Law School in 1974.
Upon graduation, he practiced litigation at Shearson & Sterling, then
the largest law firm in Manhattan, where one his cases involved
property rights to amoxicillin. Beecham claimed that Bristol-Myers
Squibb had infringed on its rights to what is one of the most popular
antibiotics. The case settled with Bristol-Myers obtaining a license
to distribute the drug.
Jerry left Shearson after nine years, and spent the next 13 years
in banking before starting his own firm. "It’s something I had
always wanted to do," he says. Much of the impetus for the move,
however, came from his wife, Marilyn, who also is a lawyer. The couple
have three children, Christopher, a senior at the University of
Elizabeth, a sophomore at George Washington; and Steven, a junior
at Princeton High School. Marilyn Jerry had been at home raising the
children, but eventually felt it was time to return to her career.
In 1996 the couple started their firm, which specializes in general
corporate law and commercial litigation, including debt collection.
Jerry says businesses have to be careful in using the Internet,
as a tool to collect customer data. "My years in banking
me to privacy, and to people’s expectation of privacy," he says.
In addition, companies have to be careful about how their employees
use on-site Internet connections. Here are some suggestions.
says. Every business must put language on its Internet site assuring
customers that their private information will be safeguarded, and
will not be sold to third parties without their knowledge.
an Internet toy store, declared bankruptcy, consumer groups objected
to the sale of its customer list. Eventually, Disney, which had an
interest in the company, paid $50,000 to buy — and destroy —
the list. Had the case gone to trial, however, Jerry says the court
most likely would have allowed the list to be sold, probably to
toy company, which could be expected to use it responsibly. In the
wake of this case, companies are being more cautious about telling
consumers their information will not be sold.
"Amazon has changed the wording on its site," Jerry says.
It now reads that in the "unlikely" event that it is acquired
or sold, its customer list would be sold along with the company. This
is a smart move, one that every company would do well to emulate,
Jerry says. Consumers may not know it, but their names, E-mail
home addressees, and other personal information is worth a bundle.
In many cases, lists of this information is among the most valuable
assets a company has. Don’t give away rights to them, Jerry says.
Tailor privacy language in a way that it will reassure customers,
but at the same time, allow the company to retain rights to lists
of their names and data.
have a policy in place on Internet use," says Jerry. Absent such
a policy, it can be difficult for an employer to punish, or rein in
the activities, of a worker who is using the Internet to view
set up a business of his own, or send out offensive E-mails.
When he headed up bank legal departments, Jerry routinely saw lists
of employee phone use detailing every number each employee dialed
and how long each call lasted. Telephone monitoring was common, and
so is Internet monitoring now. Employers still have a broad scope
of power in looking into what their employees are looking at online.
While Jerry says eavesdropping on employees’ private phone
is now forbidden by law, there is no such prohibition against reading
their E-mails. "If E-mail is written at work, it is assumed to
be for purposes of the company’s business," he says.
a power few speechmakers achieve, E-mail missives "live virtually
forever," says Jerry. He advises employers to educate their
to this fact, stressing that pressing the "delete" button
does not erase their messages, which will still be retrievable years
down the road.
Jerry points to Bill Gates, in some ways the father of E-mail, or
at least father of the software that allowed it to become ubiquitous,
as one of its victims. Some of the most damaging testimony against
Microsoft in its anti-trust battle came in the form of E-mails Gates
had written years before that were trotted out to refute his
Employees should also be drilled on editing E-mail carefully. "We
only retain something like 10 percent of what we hear," says
"The written word has a much greater impact."
for reading the wealth of information, news, and stories on the
many businessmen feel free to take it and use it any way they want
to. This, says Jerry, can be an invitation to be sued.
One of his early clients was putting together an information website
and asked Jerry’s advice on whether he could include material freely
available on other websites. "No," was the answer, at least
not without permission.
ability to gather customer data. Their obligation to do so responsibly
now may be critical. He says there are 30 or 40 bills in Congress
aiming to limit Internet data gathering. The new administration is
less eager to see these measures get through than was the last
so businesses may have time to avoid being regulated. Assuring
that their data won’t be sold to everyone with the cash to buy it,
may be key.
state of New Jersey, knows what she wants to get out of life. "I
want to be present in my children’s lives," the mother of teenage
children says. She also wants to spend time in her garden and to do
more reading. As for work, Fogel, now principal in Robin Fogel and
Associates, a Titusville-based coaching firm, wants flexibility and
"control over my career."
Fogel is on the way to achieving her goals. In a recent family
she announced that she would be spending half an hour reading —
uninterrupted, please — two evenings a week. A master gardener,
she makes time for her plants, but marshals that scarce commodity
by turning a blind eye to the nearby lawn. "My real joy is
she says. "I could care less about the grass." In starting
her own company, Fogel has the flexibility to spend time with her
children when they need her, and a vehicle to grow her career in ways
she finds satisfying.
Fogel shares her strategies for creating the life she wants when she
speaks on "Making Time in Your Life for What Matters to You"
at a meeting of the Central Jersey Women’s Network on Wednesday,
19, at 6p.m. at the Princeton Raddison. Cost: $35. Call 908-281-9234.
A graduate of Stockton College, where she majored in finance and
Fogel holds a graduate degree in human development from Fairleigh
Dickinson. She says the two disciplines, with little in common at
first blush, have melded exceptionally well in her career. She has
worked as an accountant and as a banker in private industry. She began
her career with the state in accounting, and when an opportunity to
switch to human resources came up, she took it, and found it a good
fit. Among the posts she has held are personnel director for New
Office of Administrative Law and for the state’s Treasury Department.
Like many busy career women, Fogel has had to work to get time on
her side, but she is quick to point out that finding enough time to
fit in the basics of a satisfying life is not a women’s problem. Men
too are crunched between work and family, and are often hard-pressed
to find time for exercise and leisure activities. It’s not easy, she
says, but given thought, the week can be carved up into enough slices
to yield a living, as well as a life. Here are some of her
are spending time," says Fogel. Her clients often are surprised
about how the precious hours really are spent.
a week pass in semi-somnolent TV watching, marathon phone
with gabby acquaintances, waiting on line, picking up after the kids,
or reading junk E-mail is to write it all down. Only when you
where your time going will you be able to grab hold of it and use
it in ways that satisfy, rather than frustrate.
separate out the things you do because you want to from the things
you get sucked into doing by an inability to say no. Time demands
are intense. Every volunteer group badly needs committee chairs, most
youth sports teams could use another coach, many bosses have projects
they are eager to unload. Before saying yes, Fogel suggests, do some
research. How long will the project take? Just how many hours a week
are required to keep the soccer team’s snack stand manned?
important event that will raise needed money for an important cause,
go ahead and volunteer to help, but, says Fogel, decide just how many
hours you can spend. "Say you are able to give two hours
Fogel gives as an example. And then stick to it.
little time who shed her nightly responsibility for preparing dinner
by enlisting her husband and each of her teenage children to take
one night of the week. She now has to come up with an evening meal
not more than two nights a week, and has gained no fewer than five
hours to spend as she pleases. A key here, which can apply to the
office as well as to the home, is to avoid hovering, and to accept
that the work delegated may not be done exactly as you would do it,
and that that is okay.
could not get away from work into well into the evening. A little
gentle probing revealed that she was so tied up in reading and
E-mail that she didn’t get to her assigned projects until late in
the day. Fogel suggested that she set aside two or three time slots
each day for reading E-mail, and let it sit the rest of the day.
There are people, says Fogel, who waste a lot of time between 9 and
5 and end up having to work late when a little time management earlier
in the day could have gotten them out the door on time. For models
of productivity, she says, look back to the early days of flex-time.
"Some of the most productive workers were young mothers who wanted
to be home," she says. Given the incentive of a young child
for them, these women, she recalls, organized themselves and got their
work done in record time.
Fogel admits, however, that in some companies it doesn’t matter how
much work has been accomplished before sunset. There are corporate
cultures that value face time, and want to see a full parking lot
no matter what the status of projects and deadlines. "Certain
cultures just want you around," says Fogel. She suggests that
anyone with different priorities might do well to look elsewhere for
time is going, and then making decisions about how to re-allocate
to accommodate your priorities is the path to a fulfilling life. But
this isn’t always easy. On the very first night after Fogel’s
that she would be unavailable at the end of the evening because she
was reading, one of her children came to her with an urgent request.
There was a school project that could not wait. "I jumped up,"
Fogel says. But then she reconsidered, and told her child that it
could wait until the next day.
Venture Association New Jersey and the New Jersey
Incubator Network hold their fourth annual Business Incubator and
Technology Showcase on Monday, September 24, at 9 a.m. at the Westin
Hotel in Morristown. There is no charge to visit company exhibits,
but the cost for a morning workshop, limited to 50 participants, is
$50, and the cost for a luncheon program is $60. Call 973-267-4200.
The showcase offers young tech companies an opportunity to network
with venture capital firms, angel investors, other early stage
companies, professional service providers, and corporate product
Fifty New Jersey incubator startups are expected to exhibit at the
showcase. The exhibition area will be open from 10 a.m. through 4
p.m. The morning workshop, beginning at 9 a.m., features a talk by
New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Rutgers.
The luncheon program is an angel investor and venture capitalist panel
discussion. Panelists include
in early stage pre-revenue companies;
director of Loeb Partners;
of the NJ Technology Council Venture Fund;
director of Advanta Growth Capital; and
of ESE Partners.
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