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Friday, October 12, 2007


This must be a big shock to the junk mail industry, when I agree with such a sensitive issue as consumers receiving junk mail. But there are good reasons why I don’t think a Do-Not-Mail law is a good idea, whether on a state level or federal. First, junk mail, contrary to its counterparts, telephone solicitations and e-mail spam, can be easily discarded if not wanted. Second, if my concept of control over their names and personal data is granted to consumers, the problems of environmental waste and privacy will go away. Why? Because the individual will then determine what they receive, and who has access to their private information. Third, I don’t want to halt all junk mail. Rather, I want to harness its power to rightfully share the wealth with the name-holder in their later years by supplementing the retiree’s Social Security and/or pension by an average of $607 monthly. This would come from the $4 billion collected each year by the list business through selling your names and personal data. Editor & Publisher has an article about the concern of the DMA that do-not-mail proponents will find the same success as the do-not call list, and has organized a group, “Mail Moves America,” to fight the trend. John Greco, DMA President, says the environmentalists and privacy advocates “distort the facts in their efforts to eliminate advertising mail to consumers.” C’mon Greco, it’s junk mail until your band of shotgun marketing cowboys can eliminate the need to mail 100 catalogs to get just one or two orders, with the rest going in the trash. On the DMA Web site, they list the states that have do-not-mail legislation in the making. The fifteen states range from Arkansas to Washington state, and include large population areas like New York, New Jersey, and Texas. Curiously missing is California, where it all started with the outing of the ChoicePoint data breach. Believe me, I want to bridle the junk mailers from the reckless handling of your names and private information, but the way to accomplish this is not to enact state laws that could bring the consumers’ potential golden goose to a standstill. If you want legislation, consider passing a federal law that gives individuals control over their sensitive data, while compensating them when it is sold. I doubt seriously if Greco will bring this idea before his minions when he opens the annual junk mail conference tomorrow in Chicago.

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