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PRIVACYnotes Discussion List
Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Respecting Privacy on the Web

PRIVACYnotes Digest Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Published by: Mike Banks Valentine website101
May 16, 2002 Issue # 010

.....IN THIS DIGEST.....


"Enlightened at Last?" ~ Mike Valentine

// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //

"Proving Offline Subscriptions" ~ Janet Roberts

"Privacy Humor" ~ Future Feed Forward ~ Moderator comment

"Proximity Privacy" ~ Jeff Harrow ~ Moderator Comment


"National ID Card" ~ Anonymous

// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

"The Latest in Privacy Issues"



Friday I received a notice from Dr. Koop newsletter that as they prepare to transfer assets of their now bankrupt company to Bargain America, that they would LIKE to sell my email address as part of their assets in the proceeding. They provide an opt-out option to remove my name from the list before the transfer of their database of contacts to the new company. ToySmart learned via lawsuit that they could not sell names and contact information in their bankruptcy proceedings because their privacy policy promised customers that their information would not be sold.

The fallout from that widely publicized court case sent online companies running for cover to change their privacy policy to allow sales of personally identifiable customer information to any purchaser of company assets. That makes me wonder whether a lawsuit was threatened in this bankruptcy case related to their customer database or whether this is a preemptive move. It's worth noting that they only allow five days (sent on Friday and to include the weekend, essentially a two day notice.) to opt-out before you're sold.

YAHOO! is the most recent and visible of web properties to suddenly change their privacy policy to allow sales of customers' private information to any suitor at any price. While they were at it, they decided to move offensively (pun intended) and chose for it's millions of members that they would now receive marketing information from YAHOO! "partners" unless they opt-out again, regardless of previous preferences. There is no news of law suits in that case, but I'd be surprised if there weren't several filed. The pending switch of Prodigy Internet to SBC/YAHOO! will mean that Prodigy customers will now be open to the spamming, er I mean, marketing practices of YAHOO!

I've now received a total of four notices from companies selling their assets that my information would be sold in web company buy-outs. I've even sent notes in response to those notices thanking the company for asking, then immediately opted out of their databases. This new practice is often masked in confusing terms, but future law suits will likely clear up that confusion.

How do you feel about your information being sold in buy-outs of web based companies? How about in buy-outs of brick and mortar companies where it's always been done, as mentioned in the linked news story at the bottom of this issue?

~ Mike Banks Valentine

// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //


From: Janet Roberts

Your most loyal newsletter subscribers often are not the ones you collect through email sign-ups or Web forms. Instead, they're the people you meet in the offline world, at conferences and conventions where you are a speaker, in your trade-show booth, in business meetings, even at the supermarket, or those who send in newspaper or magazine ads with a subscription request.

The best way is to keep all paper-format requests, right down to the cocktail napkin your dinner partner scrawled an email address on. (So much for the paperless society!) If somebody complains, you have the written evidence.

Verbal requests are even trickier. You can give out your email address or Web link and then wait for the person to sign up, or else include that information in a follow-up confirmation email.

Janet Roberts, Associate Editor Member of the Resource Network for Email Publishers


From: Future Feed Forward

December 13, 2013

CINCINNATI--Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble today announced trial marketing in the U.S. of a new version of its classic Charmin bathroom tissue displaying dynamically generated and updated ads for other Procter & Gamble products. The new ad-enabled Charmin will be free to consumers and distributed through supermarkets and other large retail outlets for Procter & Gamble products.


From: Jeff Harrow

If you've been following the promises of new cell phone services that will be possible once our cell phones become "location-aware," then you've probably come across the decidedly mixed-blessing of "Proximity Marketing."

This is the (useful or despicable, depending on your viewpoint) process of making your real-time position information available to marketers who might like to lure you into a restaurant you're approaching by offering you an instant discount, based on their current customer load. Or to go even farther, using your credit/debit card shopping records to know that you're probably interested in [sports | electronics | clothing, take your pick] and offer you a special price on the 'latest and greatest' at the store that just happens to be at the foot of the next exit ramp (or the store farther down the mall).

The thing is, although I may sound disparaging of this idea, it could actually be useful to many people -- so long as we can strictly tailor (e.g., opt-in) and control its use. For example, I might be very interested in being told about a 4-star Thai restaurant near me if it's near lunch or dinnertime, or I'd welcome a good price on a new DVD-recorder I might be contemplating. But I would quickly become angry and discontinue the entire service if I was bombarded with come-ons from Indian restaurants (sorry, that's one of the few cuisines that don't sit well with me), or the latest prices on towels (unless they were high-tech, with built-in displays, etc...) But you get the idea -- the service could be useful IF it's not abused (by MY definition.)

(We should remember, though, that all location-aware devices, which include the cell phones you use today to some extent, do open the privacy specter -- something that we're past-due in coming to grips with.

Technology Consultant The Harrow Group Author: "The Harrow Technology Report" Web ->

[ Moderator Comment ]:

Jeff Harrow kindly approved use of the above excerpt from an article titled "Getting From Here to There" from his weekly newsletter, "The Harrow Technology Report," available online at:



From: Anonymous

Mike Valentine said:

>> But I don't see any serious national privacy advocates within the federal government since most listen when money talks before they listen to public opinion. Although there is furious activity, there is no clear leader on the issue. <<

The President, I'd say, falls into the category of Government and he says:

"President Bush on National ID Card: No Way, No How"

"The White House has ruled out a national identity card system as a counterterrorism measure. Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan said President Bush is not even considering the idea - though many in and out of government are, and the debate over the old issue has flared anew."

- Washington Times Weekly, 10/7/01

You failed to inform your readers of this very important fact regarding National ID's - the "main man" does not want them in America. I think it is imperative people know this so as to add to support OF THE WHITE HOUSE and of course, the most important support - Americans as a united country.

Privacy Legislation in US House & Senate


* Senators Introduce Privacy Commission Bill

Sen. Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), introduced the Citizens' Privacy Commission Act (S.851), a bill that would establish a privacy commission to study ways that federal, state and local governments collect and use personal data. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Pete Fitzgerald (R-Il.). The bill is similar to one introduced in the 106th Congress, and would require the new 11-member commission to investigate how the various levels of government collect, use and share information about citizens.

* House Subcommittee Passes Privacy Commission Bill

The House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations passed H.R. 4049 by voice vote. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and would establish a 17-member commission to study industry and government privacy initiatives. The commission would report on the need for legislation or industry self-regulation efforts after 18 months.

Source: Newsbytes

// -- 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.

Tens of thousands of stolen credit-card numbers are being offered for sale each week on the Internet in a handful of thriving, membership-only cyberbazaars, operated largely by residents of the former Soviet Union, who have become central players in credit-card and identity theft. The marketplaces where credit card prices fluctuate with supply and demand in a sort of black stock market offer a window into a crime that costs the financial system $1 billion or more a year. They also show how readily personal information is being stolen and traded in the computer age. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Two University of Cambridge computer security researchers plan to describe on Monday an ingenious and inexpensive attack that employs a $30 camera flashgun and a microscope to extract secret information contained in widely used smart cards. The newly discovered vulnerability is reason for alarm, the researchers said, because it could make it cost-effective for a criminal to steal information from the cards. Smart cards are used for dozens of different applications, including electronic identity protection, credit and debit cards and cellular phone payment and identity systems. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Researchers in Scotland are developing a new kind of Web monitoring software that they claim can collect enormous amounts of data on Web surfers while remaining nearly undetectable. "Technology like this, once it's spread around, means people can be tracked from site to site," said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Whatever (the Scottish Enterprise) is doing, this is part of a long-standing practice by governments to fund the development of spying technology or, more generally, technology that facilitates law enforcement and national security."

Since "Googling" -- looking up a new acquaintance on Google before going out on a date -- has become a popular research tool, this could become a real liability. It happens sometimes, said Google software engineer Matt Cutts. Your Web presence depends on things that you can't always control -- "how long you've been on the Internet, whether you have a home page, how actively you seek out social contacts online," he said. Finding the right balance between recognition and privacy is difficult. Chris Hoofnagle, legislative counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, outlined a few options for people seeking to control their own Google identity.

Yahoo, the vast Internet portal that set off howls of protest when it abruptly changed its marketing policy in March. Suddenly, Yahoo granted itself the right to send advertising messages to tens of millions of its users who had previously asked to receive none. The blanket permission went beyond e-mail to include postal mailings and telemarketing phone calls. Immediately, privacy advocates reacted with criticism, and outraged postings flooded message boards all over the Internet. In the four weeks from March 25 to April 21, nearly a million Internet users in the United States looked at Yahoo's new privacy policy. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

A troubling trend in constitutional law: the erasing of the line between commercial and noncommercial speech. Last month, a court struck down a federal law banning junk faxes and affirmed the right of a company called American Blast Fax to continue to blast away. If other courts push corporate free speech to this illogical limit, laws against spam e-mail may suffer the same fate, as judges elevate the right to send e-mail ads for get-rich-quick schemes and Internet pornography sites to a constitutional imperative. Editorial Opinion. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

A NEW survey shows a correlation between the actions of Sacramento politicians on financial-privacy legislation and the amount of contributions they have received from the measure's opponents. Opponents of legislation that would require banks and insurance companies to obtain customer permission before selling or sharing personal financial information contributed nearly $5 million to legislators and the governor since the 2000 election cycle, Common Cause found in its study, titled "Privacy for Sale."

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If you shop on the Internet, you may fret about keeping your credit card number safe. But when you pay a bill to a hospital or clinic, you probably don't think about where those computerized account records end up. Nor is that foremost on your mind when you start a job and provide your employer a home address and Social Security number. Yet the way those bills and records are handled can determine whether you become a victim of identity theft, the top online consumer complaint at the Federal Trade Commission.

PRIVACYnotes Moderator: Mike Banks Valentine

Mike Banks Valentine is a champion of the true small online business. He advocates a do-it-yourself approach to e-commerce through online learning for the small office, home office (SOHO) or emerging entrepreneur who lacks major venture capital funding or corporate marketing budgets.

Mike is the founder of WebSite101, an educational resource for small businesses creating initial Web presences. His writing has appeared in international publications and his work praised by Entrepreneur Magazine. He does small business web marketing and search engine optimization.

Contact Mike Banks Valentine 5318 E. 2nd St. #789 Long Beach, CA 90803