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The Temu Scandal: Dan on Radio 5

Protecting Personal Data in the Age of AI Marketing

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I was just asked to be on Radio 5 Live and talk about technology, the future of marketing and about the Temu promotion scandal. (See the photo above and on YouTube with the full interview.) And even thought it is always nice to be asked on national radio as a tech expert, I want to focus on two crucial but sadly negative topics:

  • the importance of being vigilant in protecting your personal data in the age of AI marketing and,
  • the potential threats posed by AI voice cloning or even image cloning…

In the digital age, personal data has become a valuable commodity, and the rise of AI-driven marketing practices has raised concerns about privacy risks. As a technology expert, I want to shed light on alarming practices by companies using AI in marketing and emphasize the importance of safeguarding our data privacy.

Chinese online retailer and e-commerce discount superstore Temu recently faced controversy over its promotion with baffling terms and conditions. As reported by The Guardian, Temu's app has been described as "addictive, absurdly cheap and controversial" (Siddique, 2023). The promotion, which I whistleblew, hinted at a future where personal information and even digital likeness become commodities for targeted advertising without many realizing the extent of it.

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The Dangers of Not Reading Terms and Conditions

I want to highlight that our digital footprint is incredibly valuable, and large companies have been using consumer data to profit. As consumers, we need to be more vigilant about who we share our information with and under what terms.

One of the biggest takeaways from my insights is the importance of reading terms and conditions, which can hide permissions that allow companies to use your data, including your likeness and voice, in ways you might never have imagined. Temu's case illustrates a broader issue where companies draft overly broad terms and conditions that could permit them to exploit personal data in unprecedented ways (Siddique, 2023).

Current laws and regulations seem insufficient to protect consumers against the potential misuse of AI in marketing. I advocate for stricter laws to prevent abuses of personal data. Awareness and education are also crucial in combating the exploitation of personal data.

While AI in marketing offers democratized access and opportunities for businesses, it also poses risks to individuals' privacy and autonomy. OpenAI has famously backtracked on allowing a technology I mentioned in my radio interview, which allows cloning of someone's voice with just 15 seconds of information (BBC News, 2023a). Combined with lip-sync technology, a digital clone can be made to say anything about anything, especially if image rights have been sold, as implied by Temu's promotion terms and conditions.

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AI and the Future of Marketing

AI is transforming the marketing landscape, and yes I helped create the AI Marketing Course to help people use AI more, but the new world can be open to abuse as well as use.

AI is transforming the marketing landscape, with companies leveraging vast amounts of consumer data for targeted advertising. However, as BBC News reports, there are concerns about the ethical implications and potential for misuse (BBC News, 2023b). Training people to use AI responsibly for marketing, like we do at the AI Marketing Course, is crucial, but using technology to abuse people in ways they don't understand is unacceptable.

As we navigate the digital landscape, it's imperative to be conscious of the information we share and vigilant in protecting our personal data. Through education, stricter laws, and a collective shift in how we view our digital footprints, we can safeguard our privacy and take full advantage of the digital age without compromising our personal integrity.



  1. BBC News. (2023b). The rapid rise of AI and what it means for business.
  2. MSN. (2020). AI-generated deepfake videos, voice cloning emerge as potential threats during election season.
  3. Siddique, H. (2023). 'Addictive, absurdly cheap and controversial': The rise of China's Temu app. The Guardian.
  4. Telecom Review. (n.d.). Caution ahead: Exploring the benefits and dangers of AI voice cloning.
  5. Wiggers, K. (2024). OpenAI launches custom voice engine that can clone speech in seconds. TechCrunch.
  6. My two videos from the Radio 5 piece. One on LinkedIn and the other on YouTube with the full interview.
  7. The AI Marketing Course