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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


DM News started up several years ago when I was flying high as a list broker selling your names and personal data, and making a lot of money. It quickly took over as the “must read” publication, if you wanted the straight scoop and inside story. They have pretty much lived up to that reputation, and a recent article by Mickey Alam Khan, “The direct marketing industry needs to act – now,” follows the pattern of giving readers both sides of the picture. The “picture” here is that the junk mail business has failed pitifully to police itself, and face up to the fact that the only solution is to give consumers control over their sensitive data. Khan mentions the May 20, article in the New York Times about InfoUSA list subsidiary, Walter Karl, and how some elderly Americans lost money to illicit telemarketers who bought their data from WK (covered above), as the latest incident. And then the New York Times reports how Presidential candidate, Barack Obama singled out InfoUSA as “deserving scrutiny.” Have we finally gotten the attention of someone who could do something about the identity crisis? I wrote Obama with my ideas on individual control, and received the normal “canned” answers. If I hear anything substantive, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, Stormy Dean, InfoUSA’s CFO, says if the company was breaking any laws the Federal Trade commission would be investigating them. Looks like they spoke too soon, as the FTC said recently it might open an investigation of InfoUSA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

The proposed recent "Do not mail" is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing - and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today's [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer's right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

Ramsey A Fahel