Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business
Published by: Mike Banks Valentine website101
June 6, 2002 Issue # 013
.....IN THIS DIGEST.....
// -- MODERATOR COMMENT -- //
"SPAM Sandwich" ~ Mike Valentine
// -- CONTINUING DISCUSSION -- //
"Email Appending" ~ Anonymous
// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //
"The Latest in Privacy Issues"
// -- MODERATOR COMMENT -- //
Trapped Between Abusers and Accusers, It's A Spam Sandwich!
This week was dominated by SPAM issues for me. I alternate between
stunned and complacent over SPAM I receive each day. One day my
delete-key-trigger-finger works in rapid bursts to clear the inbox.
The next day brings a new barrage and I fume as the HTML SPAM
emails launch web browser windows automatically that can't be
closed without opening more windows.
Each time Java is launched while I'm reviewing my mail, I almost
explode in anger as there is literally nothing I can do to stop
it until it loads the email, pops up a browser window and I can
finally begin to close the rapid fire group of popup windows attempting
to show hardcore porn or the latest body enhancing pills.
A news headline caught my eye the same day about a Scottsdale,
Arizona based company that was closed down by the state attorney
general for fraud, using spam to gain customers. C.P. Direct,
a company selling penis, breast and even HEIGHT enhancing pills
was shuttered and assets seized. Apparently there are way too
many men without common sense who purchased those "Longitude"
pills and then convinced their significant-others to buy the pills
offering fuller breasts. It saddens me especially those who fell
for the pills to make you taller. But it seems to pay well to
sell snake oil.
"Among the items seized were luxury cars, including a Lamborghini,
Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Bentley, $20 million in bank accounts,
$3 million in cash and a bounty of luxury jewelry, according to
a list of the items. Company officials could not be reached for
comment. The initial cost of the pills was $59.99, plus shipping
and handling for a month's supply and $39.99 a month thereafter.
Records showed the pills cost $2.50 per bottle to manufacture.
The company also allegedly sold pills that supposedly guaranteed
height increases and bigger breasts, officials said."
As a list moderator for multiple lists and a host of several
newsletters, I have plenty of email to deal with on a routine
basis. The time lost to SPAM is just too valuable to give up any
more. I see this as a privacy issue as well. Those email addresses
harvested from my site by spammers (about a dozen different special
purpose addresses) are then resold to so-called legitimate marketers
that actually remove me from their lists when I ask, but the spammers
sell the harvested addresses over and over again. I even get spam
sent to the PRIVACYnotes list address that were harvested
by the spambots.
I encoded many of the email links on my site with UNICODE symbols
in an attempt to foil the harvesting software and then immediately
got a note from someone doing spamming in an attempt to end spam
(!!!) who offered a tool to encode my emails with UNICODE! It
must be a joke site because their links don't work and the spam
sent encouraging me to go encode my emails actually showed my
address in UNICODE BEFORE their enocoding! For those of you that
haven't used this little trick it's detailed in an article (along
with a dozen other articles on spam issues) at:
I also recommend two others, one that details a list of anti-spam
techniques and a second that lists resources to fight spam.
I finally decided I'd had enough of it and signed up for a paid
service that cleans my emailbox every twenty minutes and removes
the latest load of stupid promotions -- before I retrieve my mail.
OK, well, now I can rest easy, right? NO! Now I'VE been accused
of spamming and complaints have been registered with SpamCop!
I host a daily horoscope list with about 4500 subscribers that
is very popular. I get notes (to the astrologer, Brandi Jasmine)
regularly raving about how much they enjoy the daily list. Someone
was apparently subscribed by a friend or relative without their
permission and they sent nasty notes (anonymously through SpamCop)
screeching at me to stop spamming them! Details are available
at the following address:
I think SPAM will be the death of me. I'm so tired of fighting
it, writing about it and being accused of it myself! I've done
all I can to require double opt-in to all my lists. But as a list
publisher of sorts online and either must learn to live with the
issue or quit. I won't quit -- but sometimes it sure is tempting.
Less tolerant souls could end up "going Postal." The problem is
that the only thing I can damage in my rage would be my own computer.
Spammers drive Ferrari's while driving us all nuts. Go figure.
Do you see SPAM as a privacy issue?
~ Mike Banks Valentine
// -- CONTINUING DISCUSSION -- //
===> TOPIC: EMAIL APPENDING
Email appending is a form of list building. 'appending' is a
crude way of building a list. In the old days too swapping was
considered a naff way to build as you are adding unqualified to
'supposedly' qualified. Some kind of dumb.
List building on or offline is as old as marketing itself, a
changing industry with sciences, practices as gurus expound. One
factor for change in Europe is the data protection act. Your personal
address and profile is deemed a private matter and selling on
this information is frowned upon though it's locking the stable
door after the horse already bolted. Credit check companies do
and nobody hassles THEM. Hate spam as you might - it's too late
to regulate though they WILL have their public hangings (to show
their power) like DoubleClick.
Consumer and business-to-business are supposed to be different
and where people fall foul of the so called 'protection' of data
is when they mix them or use unclean lists/profiles that are not
properly qualified. 'Different markets' are getting LESS different
as people become persons rather than job titles and increase their
range of responsibilities.
Email is different from letters in three major ways. Firstly
people pay in some way to RECEIVE email (In Europe even more so
as we still mostly pay per minute online) Hence uninvited mail
is more than just rude. Secondly on the Internet people are people
are people. Even in business terms email is regarded as a personally
taken thing (which EATS time). Thirdly it is near impossible to
get clean email lists so targeting is an increasingly expensive
The direct mail business is altering radically because of the
way business working methods are changing. Small to medium enterprises
are the majority of business anyway and nowadays by 'small'. we
now talk of a companies 2-3 strong who, thanks to computers and
to the Internet, do quite nicely thank you. Even in conventional
terms a clean list is expensive. Finding out the decision maker's
name and title to target them direct (highest % results). costs
more as people change jobs faster and work from home more etc.
Email addresses change faster than ever. Tired of spam? disinfect
your current email on 'bounce' for a while and use another one.
Use a graphic for your email address on the Web. If "everyone
fill in ten forms a month with misleading profiles" they'd mind
their own damn business soon enough...dadedadeda...The spammers
are going to soon find it hard and the numbers game will not yield
enough for the trouble. Give it a year or so. The 'consumer' IS
fighting back. Already anti-spam tools are the new plaything of
spammers When the press support the golden code 'NEVER respond
to a spam' IT WILL DIE OUT.(c'mon journalists wagging fingers
don't work try REAL advice). So will appending etc.
As ever, sales number crunching will never take the place of
honest and directed effort and enthusiasm. Personal, REAL reputation
& recommendation are getting more recognised as the most powerful
ways to get business as even the VERY big boys (using Bernays
type manipulation, enron-like, to their death) are beginning to
learn. The pendulum swings.
===> EMAIL APPENDING
No matter which way you look at it, unless someone "opted-in"
voluntarily (not the cop-out "Opt-out"model - which is equivalent
to "I'll knock on your doors at all times of the day unless you
say so!"), E-Mail marketing is invasive and a dumb approach at
that. Annoying somebody and hoping that their problem is so critical
that they overcome their annoyance and buy your product is the
dumbest marketing strategy I have come across so far.
I am on the opt-in mailing list of many businesses. I don't
mind getting these email messages at all. Knowing that I signed
up for it and I can get off the mailing list any time I want gives
me confidence. But only if they don't turn around and sell these
mailing lists and they sell these in turn.
They seem to have a reasoning that goes like this "Because I
like books and buy Java books, I should like Coffee. Because I
like coffee, I should like caffeine products. Because I like Caffeine,
I would like to get email solicitations for nepalese marijuana!"
===> TOPIC: EMAIL APPENDING
Anti spammers will say it's just a bunch of corrupt business
people doing their thing, privacy freaks will get alarmed, and
it'll go on anyway, because most marketing guys are so paranoid
they don't know what to do at the moment about email marketing.
Sorry to sound so cynical.
// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //
Moderator note: There are two ways to access previously listed
privacy news stories. One is to visit PRIVACYnotes archives,
the other (simpler) way is to visit
where I also keep a privacy news archive.
IBM has developed new software that it hopes will make you feel
safer about your privacy online. The software takes personal information
and scrambles it before forwarding it to merchants. On the merchant
end, the software can unscramble the data enough for a company
to mine for a marketing campaign--without revealing any individual's
personal information. If adopted by merchants and consumers, the
new software could benefit both groups, said Rakesh Agrawal, a
researcher at IBM's Privacy Research Institute. Consumers could
get marketing messages targeted to them without worrying about
sacrificing their private information. And merchants and marketers
could get useful data without worrying about whether consumers
were giving false information.
He cuts off telemarketers on the phone, regularly reminds direct-mail
associations to keep him off their lists and diligently opts out
of mass e-mail lists. But he didn't hesitate to give his fingerprint,
credit card information and phone number to a company he had never
heard of. He is one of the 2,000-plus customers of a Thriftway
grocery store in West Seattle who signed up in a pilot program
run by Oakland, Calif.-based Indivos Corp. that links customers'
fingerprints with their credit or debit cards, allowing them to
buy groceries by simply running a finger over a scanner.
The Justice Department said today that it would immediately
loosen restrictions on the F.B.I., giving the bureau broad new
powers to go after terrorists without violating the United States
Constitution. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the F.B.I. director,
Robert S. Mueller III, announced the changes this afternoon. Mr.
Ashcroft said that far from endangering the rights of Americans,
the changes would allow federal agents to do things that members
of the public already do. Under the current guidelines, the bureau
cannot send undercover agents to investigate groups that gather
at places like mosques or churches unless investigators first
find probable cause or evidence that leads them to believe that
someone in the group may have broken the law. Now they can attend
any function open to the public.
New York State has taken aim at the growing amount of spam plaguing
consumers by filing suit against online marketing company MonsterHut
and two of its executives. "Every day, New Yorkers are being inundated
with unsolicited commercial e-mails, or spam," Spitzer said. He
called a portion of the spam "a vehicle for fraud" and noted that
some of it is "inherently fraudulent." Spitzer leveled the suit
at MonsterHut, company CEO Todd Pelow and chief technical officer
Gary Hartl, accusing them of representing the company’s e-mail
marketing service as an opt-in offering. Their claims, the suit
alleges, are intended to convince outsiders that every consumer
who has received commercial e-mail from MonsterHut specifically
A Tennessee man who devised an audacious identity-fraud scheme
to bilk jewelers and corporate executives out of $730,000 worth
of diamonds and Rolex watches was sentenced to eight years in
prison yesterday by a federal district judge in Manhattan. The
defendant, James Rinaldo Jackson, 41, said when he pleaded guilty
in 2000 that he found the names of corporate executives in "Who's
Who in America" and paid $50 to $100 to buy their Social Security
numbers from Internet information brokers. He also fraudulently
obtained their credit card numbers and other personal data, and
impersonated his victims on the telephone to buy the jewels and
watches. "The defendant's crimes are everyone's worst nightmare,"
Glitches in a controversial FBI system to monitor the e-mail
of suspected criminals likely hampered an investigation of al
Qaeda two years ago, according to internal FBI documents released
on Tuesday. According to memos obtained by the Electronic Privacy
Information Center, FBI investigators threw out the results of
an e-mail wiretap in March 2000 because the system, commonly known
as "Carnivore," collected electronic messages of regular Internet
users as well as the target of the probe. FBI officials have told
Congress the system captures only a narrow field of information
for which interception is authorized by a court order. The documents
showed Carnivore had occasionally grabbed the e-mail messages
of other Internet users, especially when set up to work on unusual