Who: Richard Purcell, 55 What: Corporate Privacy Group (www.corporateprivacygroup.com), a consulting business based on Marrowstone Island...

Share story


Richard Purcell, 55

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks


Corporate Privacy Group (www.corporateprivacygroup.com), a consulting business based on Marrowstone Island near Port Townsend


Spring 2003

Privacy credentials:

Purcell founded Microsoft’s global privacy program and was its first chief privacy officer. He is chairman of TRUSTe (www.truste.org), serves on the board of International Association of Privacy Professionals and is a founding member of Conference Board Council of Chief Privacy Officers.


Born in Puyallup and raised in Longview, Purcell graduated from the University of Washington in 1971. He worked mill jobs and railroad maintenance to pay for college. Later, he started a natural-foods store in Eugene, Ore.; an alternative newspaper in Chico, Calif.; and ran the catalog circulation for Early Winters in the ’80s.

Then came Microsoft:

He joined the company in the early ’90s and worked on information-system architecture and data structures, from which grew privacy-program development. He became chief privacy officer in January 2000.

Consulting services:

Corporate Privacy Group offers advice and strategy for information management, employee training, privacy-program development, monitoring and assessment.


Virtual organization with no employees “but lots of friends.”



Client list:

U.S. Postal Service, Hewlett-Packard, Carlson Cos., Countrywide, Dow Jones, DoubleClick, Allstate, Ricoh.


“We help companies and consumers respect and protect personal information in the networked world.”

Favorite gadget:

24-horsepower, 2-cylinder, long-stroke diesel tractor. (“I learned to plow last spring,” he says).

Finding inspiration:

“The world is a wonderful and goofy place, chock full of fun … a good sunrise … talking with children, listening to music, reading biographies, and listening to others,” Purcell says.

Key issues in privacy:

Surveillance (cameras on the streets and in mobile phones), snooping (government information gathering, spyware), tracking technologies (RFID tags, databases, GPS devices, lists), and information globalization (lack of standards).

Tip for consumers:

Question people asking for information, minimize what you share, and check your records for mistakes or weird activities.

Tip for companies:

Respect customer information for what it is: a key asset for business success. Protect it with the same care you give trade secrets.

On his career change:

“The deal for me is really strongly about family. My wife, Paula; my boys, Brook and Evan, and my daughter, Aleah, are super important to me. We spend a lot of time together, play a lot, and have a great time.”

— Brier Dudley