Eight Privacy Firms to Watch

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"My business didn't start to take off," Chapell told me, "until I'd spent months reaching out to literally hundreds of others in the privacy, marketing and technology fields."

Chapell's marketing paid off: His firm has expanded from his home turf of interactive marketing into traditional industries, and he's hired three staffers.

When asked about emerging trends in privacy, Chapell had this to say: "I believe that the next few years will bring some form of comprehensive data-privacy legislation at the federal level. This will significantly change the privacy-consulting landscape as we know it."

Rebecca Herold had survived the dot-com bust at an IT consulting firm, only to see it fold a few years later. Some of her firm's former clients wanted her continued help, so she used the opportunity — and her eclectic background of teaching, auditing, information security and privacy — to start Rebecca Herold LLC. Herold has gone on to land a diverse range of projects addressing all phases of a privacy and security program.

Her biggest surprise? "I'm still surprised that there's such a disconnect in many organizations between the privacy office, often within the legal area, and the information security function."

"I think over the next two years there'll be more activity in the market with awareness and training," she predicted, but she cautions organizations about relying too much on technology solutions. "There will always be the human factor that must be addressed," she said.

Michele DeMaree was the first privacy leader at Minneapolis-based retailer Best Buy when the entrepreneurial bug bit. A lawyer by trade, she left her post in 2005, moved back to her hometown of Colorado Springs and started DeMaree Consulting Inc.

"While we originally set out to cater to retail clients," she said, "we're finding others who're also interested in doing the right thing."

Her firm performs privacy assessments, writes policies and processes and trains employees. It also serves as a consumer-privacy ombudsman in federal bankruptcy cases to assist courts in understanding the ramifications of an asset sale containing valuable consumer information.

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