Rapleaf, the personal information aggregation service, has brought on a new member of the team to serve as general counsel and chief privacy officer. For the San Francisco startup that recently made headlines over its tracking techniques, the addition of Ken Dreifach should help.
After all, the company released an API just last week that offers "lifestyle" information like home ownership status, occupation, income and more, and could get critics fired up all over again.
The company wrote on its blog today that it brought Dreifach on to "help us further our strong commitment to safeguarding people's data as we build a more personalizable world." Dreifach previously served as deputy general counsel for Linden Lab, operators of virtual world Second Life, and chief of the Internet Bureau of the Office of the New York Attorney General.
Rapleaf was in the news last month when the Wall Street Journal wrote that the company "profiles users by name," giving it the ability to "build extraordinarily intimate databases on people by tapping voter-registration files, shopping histories, social-networking activities and real estate records, among other things." In this same story, the company was accused of mishandling Facebook users' privacy by transmitting identifying details to other companies.
We asked Rapleaf if Dreifach had anything to say on its new Personalization API or the privacy implications of the centralization of personal information, but did not hear back in time. We will update this story if and when we receive a response.
Update: Dreifach got back to us this evening and had this to say:
"The new API will help companies customize their products to make consumer experiences more relevant and personalized -- while also taking into account continuing needs in the industry for improved data protection. I am excited to help Rapleaf lead industry practices in achieving both of these important objectives."