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PRIVACYnotes Discussion List
Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Respecting Privacy on the Web

PRIVACYnotes Digest
Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business
Published by: Mike Banks Valentine website101
June 6, 2002 Issue # 013
.....IN THIS DIGEST.....


"SPAM Sandwich" ~ Mike Valentine


"Email Appending" ~ Anonymous

// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

"The Latest in Privacy Issues"



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




From: Anonymous

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 myth.

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.


From: Anonymous

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!"



From: Anonymous

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 requested it.

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 e-mail systems.

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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