By Angelique Carson, CIPP/US
It was winter of 2011, and Rob Gratchner just had to get to the IAPP’s Data Protection Congress. His girlfriend, now Amanda Gratchner, was attending, and where better to ask her to marry him?
After all, the two had first met at an IAPP event a couple of years prior. Amanda remembers it well. Sitting in a session at 2008’s Navigate in Portsmouth, NH, a man walked in late.
“I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Who walks in late?’” she laughs.
It turns out Rob had some troubles en route from the West Coast. Despite his tardiness, the two would eventually become friends, seeing each other at conferences and professional events. But Rob lived in Seattle, WA, at the time, and Amanda lived in Portland, OR, so getting together wasn’t easy. Luckily, Rob had family in Oregon, so he’d “kind of pop in and say hello,” from time to time.
“Eventually I got the courage to ask her out. I probably think I was way cooler than I really was; I’m sure I came across probably dorky. But I asked her to dinner.”
While long-distance dating was a bit of a struggle, they made it work, and eventually Rob was ready to propose marriage.
But there was a hiccup. A big one. The Paris event was sold out. Despite his pleas to the powers that be at the IAPP, he couldn’t get in.
“I said, ‘Trevor, I really want to go, it’s really important for me to go,’” Rob says. “He still said no. What I should have said is, ‘In addition to wanting to know a lot of things about European privacy, you’re ruining my plans.’”
“I went to Paris by myself,” Amanda says with a bit of a playful tone.
Two months later, in Seattle, at the spot in which they first kissed, Rob proposed.
The two now live in Portland with their four young daughters, three from Rob’s previous marriage and one from Amanda’s. Their calendars are color-coded and their Saturdays “a little crazy,” Amanda says, but they make time for traveling, eating out at Portland’s reputable restaurants and training together for a half marathon in Las Vegas—that is, when they aren’t debating privacy. They admit, they’re pretty competitive.
“We have these vociferous discussions,” Amanda says. “I come at things from the legal compliance side, and he comes at things from the business perspective. Sometimes he’ll say, ‘I understand that’s the law, but you can’t always just do what the law says. You have to consider the business impacts to whatever you’re intending to implement.’”
“We will have debates at the dinner table,” Rob says. “It’s nice to have someone that you can talk about your work to, and having that different perspective has been hugely beneficial to me and I think Amanda as well.”
“The cool thing is he really helps me to think things through technologically,” she says. “He has explained cookies to me like 70 million times. He draws me little pictures.”
Though they’ve been too busy to take a honeymoon, the two are soon headed to Edinburgh, Scotland, to stay at a couple of castles and check out a Pet Shop Boys show.
Do Not Track, Cookies, and Love
Meanwhile, newlyweds Peter Swire and Annie Anton are enjoying the changes that come with marriage. They’re busy unpacking boxes in their Atlanta home, and Peter has started a new job at Georgia Tech where Annie was already working as chair of the School of Interactive Computing.
An added bonus?
“We can take the HOV lane to school,” Peter says. “It’s better to be a couple.”
The two met at a privacy meeting in 2007 hosted by Intel’s David Hoffman, CIPP/US. A couple of years later, the two realized they were both interested in cookies and Do Not Track as they collaborated on testimony for the Federal Trade Commission. As it turned out, they were kind of interested in each other, too.
They began dating in March and just a few months later were married. After their wedding, they took a “minimoon” to Mount Hood Forest in Portland, OR.
“Peter was very chivalrous and went and spoke with my father, in Spanish,” Annie says.
Annie’s family, who immigrated to the U.S. from Castro’s Cuba in 1961, helped to influence her interest in privacy.
“My parents are both psychiatrists, and we had the Hippocratic oath on the wall,” she says. “They really stressed the importance of patient/doctor privacy. They would sometimes have patients call the house, and so they’d have to be very careful with protecting patient information. That was my first exposure to privacy.”
While teaching at North Carolina State last year, Annie developed a course on privacy, technology, policy and law, which she brought to Georgia Tech with her and will co-teach this year with Peter at his new position as a professor of law and ethics at Georgia Tech.
Now that they’ve joined forces, they say going to each other’s privacy conferences has become a lot of fun, especially since they “had a lot of Facebook friends in common” before they started dating.
For example, when they announced at the Privacy Law Scholars Conference in June that they were engaged, Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US, helped host a karaoke night during which Annie and Peter sang “Summer Nights,” of Grease fame. Annie played the role of Olivia Newton John; Peter, of course, played John Travolta. Backup singers of the privacy pro variety really added to the performance.
“Allegedly, there’s video,” Peter laughs.
Privacy Women Are Awesome
Mike Hintze met his wife Susan Lyon-Hintze on the job. Both worked in privacy at Microsoft, he as chief privacy counsel and she a privacy attorney.
So it was first a relationship as colleagues, then as friends and then—five years later—they started dating. A year or so into the relationship, there was talk of marriage. But Mike describes their engagement as “more of a process than an actual day and time. There was never the down-on-one-knee kind of moment.”
Susan corrects him, quickly, by saying she found out they were engaged one night at a party one of their friends hosted.
“She said, ‘congratulations on your engagement,’” Susan laughs.
Then it was sort of official.
Keeping it in the privacy family, the two were married by Microsoft’s chief privacy officer, Brendon Lynch, CIPP/US, at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic sculpture park at dusk in front of about 100 guests—many of them IAPP members, Susan says.
The couple now lives in Seattle and has four boys in total—two from each of their prior marriages—two 10-year-olds, a 12-year-old and a 23-year-old.
“It’s like a frat house at our house,” Susan says. “We have a ping pong table in our kitchen nook instead of a kitchen table, a foosball table and one of those basketball things you see at arcades.”
They admit that sometimes privacy conversations come home from the office. Favorite debate topics between them are CAN-SPAM and COPPA. While Mike is still at Microsoft, Susan now works as co-chair of Cooley LLP’s privacy group.
“We talk about privacy; we do, but it has to be at a general level because she has client confidences and I can’t tell her anything that’s arguably confidential,” Mike says. “But when a new rulemaking comes out or a new noteworthy development in law, we talk about it and bounce ideas off of each other or at least thoughts and interpretations.”
When it comes to keeping their kids safe online, the couple has some “pretty unique parenting skills other parents don’t usually have,” Susan says.
For fun, the couple is into hiking and generally enjoying the weather the Northwest has to offer.
And they’re sure glad to have picked working in privacy.
“The IAPP is an awesome matchmaking service,” Mike says. “Privacy women are awesome.”
Read More by Angelique Carson:
Downstream of the Data Breach: Identity Theft Is A Messy Crime
Safe Harbor’s In Trouble—Unless You Ask the U.S.
What Would You Do?
Fordham Law Develops Privacy Curriculum for Middle Schoolers
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