Do Not Call

Hiking. It can be such a calm and liberating experience. Far from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of city life. It is one of the reasons we love the RV lifestyle. We can get ourselves close to these amazing places and we can explore them at our leisure.

So quiet and peaceful. Can you picture being there? Out in the the vast expanse of nature?

Huh? Wait a minute. What’s that sound?

Oh, my iPhone.

Someone is calling.

I’d better answer! It could be something really important.


“Hello, is this Richard?”

“It is.”

“This is John calling you from some latest, greatest tech company in San Francisco. How are you today?”

What? Another technology vendor call? Here, in the middle of a national park?

When I served as a Chief Information Officer and senior executive for IT, I received a lot of calls and emails from technology vendors. Not unusual to receive hundreds of contacts a week.

Since I retired, the calls and emails have continued. Somehow my personal number and my personal email had been harvested.

After another dozen or so emails that day, I had this exchange with a vendor the following morning:

Hey Richard,

Congrats on your retirement from your role. DiscoverOrg is the service we use and is how I got your contact details, but I’ll be sure to not send any further emails.

Enjoy your weekend.

From: Richard Cleaver
Sent: Friday, March 29, 2019 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: Come see us at Google Cloud Next ’19

Thank you for your note. Two comments.

1. I am requesting that you remove and unsubscribe my personal email address. Not sure how you got that one. Thank you.
2. I happily retired from my CIO role last year and I am no longer attending tech conferences or taking calls/meetings from vendors. Perhaps another reason for you to remove me from your mailing list 😉

Kind regards,


This is an online business that scrapes contact data about executives and other decision makers within companies and monetizes that contact data by selling it to sales, marketing and recruiting professionals.

The data is scraped from LinkedIn, corporate websites, public filings by corporations, social media and business cards. In the case of business cards, salespeople are incentivized to trade the information on their stack of business cards for additional contacts.

Somehow, my personal email and my personal telephone data got into the DiscoverOrg database.

I sent DiscoverOrg a note:

This note is to let you know that you are providing to the marketplace at large my personal information including my personal email address.

I receive multiple contacts each week from technology vendors and several have pointed to your company as the source of their data.

What makes this frustrating for me?

1. I retired from my corporate role last year. Calls and emails from technology vendors waste their time and mine.
2. I have no idea how my personal information was put into your database and it is not evident how I can have it removed.

I am requesting that my personal data be removed.

Appreciate your attention to this matter,

And, surprisingly, I received a response the next day.

Dear Richard:

We have removed your information from the DiscoverOrg database. Additionally, we were able to find your information in the ZoomInfo database and have added that profile to the queue for removal which should be completed within thirty days. We appreciate your patience in this regard.

DiscoverOrg Privacy Team

I never gave them permission to take my personal email address and my personal phone number and sell it to thousands of technology vendors to empower them to call me in the middle of a hike in a national park.

The loss of control over our personal data is unfortunate and it will only get worse over time as big data businesses continue to grow and exploit their assets, namely data about our lives.

Hopefully the removal request will result in fewer calls and emails.

And, of course, I could always leave my iPhone in the coach when we go out hiking.

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