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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


If you somehow detect a bit of sarcasm in the title, you are correct. When the junk mailers come to Chicago’s McCormack Plaza West on October 13, 2007 for the annual Direct Marketing Assn. (DMA) convention, they will learn everything from the basics of their trade to sophisticated data mining programs that can pry into the very depths of your private life. The exhibit hall will house hundreds of vendors who will ply their wares to thousands of industry participants, and many of those hawking their products and services will be list professionals. They’re the ones who sell your names and personal data to the tune of over $4 billion every year. These list pros will shout about the latest private information available on consumers, and how this can be used to target what time you go to bed, and what book you are reading when you do. What they won’t be doing is what I suggested to John Greco, DMA President. That is to set up a session for interested Chicago consumers where list people would answer questions about the sale of your names and personal data. Greco’s action, typical of this secretive business holding your most precious sensitive data, was to ignore me, thus, the very customers on whom junk mailers depend. And now I just received a copy of the schedule of events. There’s nothing in the six day agenda that addresses how consumers could and should control their names and private information. In fact, just the opposite with one session titled: “Harnessing Human Behavior.” However, Howie Mandel from the “Deal or No Deal” TV show will be there to give out the “Oscars” of junk mail. Somehow, there must be a hint of parody in this.

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