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TELL Respects Your Privacy

privacy-lock
I’m writing this post because a few days ago a strong supporter of TELL expressed concerns about our use of a digital networking company, MeetUp, to help us to organize our first TELL Wine Club wine pairing dinner. This TELL supporter wrote to ask what MeetUp was doing with his data, and we took his concerns seriously.
I dove down into MeetUp’s terms and conditions and privacy policy to try to determine exactly what MeetUp are doing with the email addresses we have input into that service. One of our board members is a senior information technology professional and he took a close look as well. [This board member had asked me several months ago to review our privacy policies in general, and we did, and felt we were taking good care of our clients’ and supporters’ information.]
Having looked hard at MeetUp, for the most part it is like any other marketing support platform (and virtually every other technology platform); we use it to automate and simplify our marketing outreach activities. Similarly, we use MailChimp to distribute our newsletter (unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email). And millions of other companies – including in sensitive areas of business – do the same thing.
MeetUp’s privacy policy is here: http://www.meetup.com/privacy/

And includes this clause:

3. Disclosure of Your Information

• 3.1. Opt-in requirement. WITHOUT YOUR AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT (ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS), WE DO NOT SELL, RENT OR OTHERWISE SHARE YOUR PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION WITH OTHER THIRD PARTIES, UNLESS OTHERWISE REQUIRED AS DESCRIBED BELOW UNDER “REQUIRED DISCLOSURES”. TO THE EXTENT WE SHARE INFORMATION WITH OUR PARTNERS AND ADVERTISERS, WE SHARE ONLY AGGREGATED OR OTHERWISE NON-PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION THAT IS NOT LINKED TO YOUR PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION. Aggregated information that we may share with our marketing partners includes, but is not limited to, information showing the relative popularity of one Meetup venue over another, or the popularity of certain Meetup topics.
 
MeetUp does not post email addresses publicly (if you buy or sell secondhand goods via Amazon, they use a similar system), and it doesn’t create an account for you.
I am extremely sympathetic to those who want to minimize their digital footprints (I make half-hearted attempts myself), and by all means if you would like to opt out of anything but bilateral communications from TELL, or indeed, from all communications from TELL, please let us know and we’ll be happy to remove you from all our mailing lists.
That said, although we value privacy highly as an organization and personally, as individuals who work within an organization, in the digital age, convenience comes at a price. [As Edward Snowden made clear to the world several years ago.] When we use Facebook, and LinkedIn, and virtually every other social media network, we sacrifice some privacy. Your Google searches lead to other suggestions, your use of Google Maps leads to other “suggestions”. This morning, I read that a couple of guys at Google have trained a deep-learning machine to work out the location of almost any photo using only the pixels it contains. The only way to protect your privacy completely is to go “off the grid” (and even then, you have to make a great effort to really get off the government and corporate radar screens!).