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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Junk Mail Industry Rag Puts Down Consumers

Direct Magazine, a junk mail industry publication, obviously must back the business it receives its advertising revenue from, but when they belittle the very customers who support Direct’s advertisers, that sucks. It all comes from a recent article on, “No, Consumers Shouldn’t Always Be in Control.”

Right out of the gate they’re wrong. Consumers should have complete control over their names and personal data.

The article comments on Phil Raymond’s concept that e-mail recipients should be paid when they receive e-mail they do not want. YES! Very similar to my theory that consumers should be paid each time their name and private information is sold. Raymond is CEO of Vanquish Labs, and plans to introduce software that will support his concept.

Direct calls the idea interesting, but then states it gets “wackier” and “wackier” when scrutinized. Continuing, they contend there would be a “chilling effect” by letting “unpredictable” and “hair-trigger consumers” make decisions like this.

The put-down progresses to Direct’s conclusion that, “…consumers simply don’t deserve money for accepting e-mail.” Their reasoning is you pay little to nothing for e-mail boxes. What they don’t mention is that junk mailers charge premium prices for the sale of your name with an e-mail address.

According to junk mail list manager/broker Worldata in their latest “List Price Index,” names with e-mail addresses sell for 50 percent more than the average junk mail shopper. Naturally, this segment of merchandising your names and private information is growing at a high rate of 38 percent annually.

Phil Raymond is backed by Boston University economics professor, Marshall Van Alstyne, who did research for the project. See “Boston U. professor to develop anti-spam program.” Reaction is mixed at BU. Most students didn’t think they would charge the spammers, and an engineering junior stated flatly there was no reason to charge for something some people could find “entertaining.” That’s a switch.

This is not just about e-mail lists, or anti-spam, or whether Raymond and the BU professor have a good idea. It is about an arrogant junk mail industry that continues to take the position that it owns your name and personal data, and you, the name-holder, have no rights whatsoever.

This, after over 100 significant data security breaches in 2005, affecting nearly 56 million consumers, while junk mailers and data brokers continue to reap over $4 billion each year from private information they are supposed to protect and don’t want to pay you for. It’s pathetic, and the issue worsens with each new loss of data, compounded by self-serving articles like the one above in Direct Magazine.

There is only one way to solve the identity crisis, and at the same time put some of the junk mail fortunes in your pocket. Pass federal legislation that will give consumers control over their names and personal data, and pay them when it is sold. Click on the following to contact your congressional representatives: House of Representatives; Senators. Folks, I cannot do this alone.

As usual, tell them I sent you.

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