CONSUMER PRIVACY, CONTROL ISSUES COME TO A HEAD
Efforts to ensure that consumers have control of their privacy on the
Internet have been making a lot of news in the past two weeks. First
privacy advocates blasted a corporate merger they say threatens consumer
privacy, and then a leading scientific association said consumer
anonymity is vital to the Internet's sustained development.
In late June, privacy advocate Junkbusters
< http://www.junkbusters.com > sent letters to Abacus Direct
stockholders and to Abacus and DoubleClick executives urging them not to
merge (find the June 1999 Vol. 4 WebPromote Weekly
The merger of the catalog database company
and the online advertising
company "is the most dangerous assault against anonymity on the Internet
since the Intel Processor serial number," said Junkbusters president
Jason Catlett. "By synchronizing cookies with name and address from
email, registrations and e-commerce transactions, the merged company
would have a surveillance database of Orwellian proportions."
The letters were also signed by Marc Rotenberg,
executive director of
the Electronic Privacy Information Center < http://www.epic.org/ >, and
Simon Davies, director-general of Privacy International. The letters were also sent to some
members of Congress and to staff of the Federal Trade Commission. The
privacy groups' objections were covered by The New York Times, USA
Today, Reuters, Wired, CNET, and many other online media outlets.
While Junkbusters and its ilk are trying
to stop one specific threat to
Internet users' privacy, the American Association for the Advancement of
Science < http://www.aaas.org/ > has published a report that comes down
strongly on the side of Internet privacy. The report is the result of an
AAAS international conference on the topic.
The conference concluded that online anonymous
communication should be
considered a strong human and constitutional right, and that individuals
should be informed about the extent to which their identity is disclosed
According to Wired News, the study concluded
that governments should be
wary of regulation that would limit how people conceal their identities
on the Internet. Regulations could prevent the proliferation of open
electronic communications and electronic commerce.
The study authors acknowledged that anonymity
allows for abuses such as
spam, hate mail, child pornography and financial fraud. The study
recommended online communities set their own policies on the use of
anonymous communication to help prevent these offenses, Wired reported.
The authors also indicated that Internet users should know the extent to
which their identity is disclosed online.
* MARKETING BASED ON PRIVACY
"Consumers are extremely frustrated
with the epidemic of unsolicited
email and they're looking for a simple solution," said Dave Tolmie,
yesmail.com's chief executive officer. "yesmail.com is in the business
of providing consumers with the tools necessary to organize their email
boxes--from controlling the type and frequency of incoming email to
filtering out spam messages."
The My.YesMail tools consist of My.Interests,
which allows consumer to
choose to receive information from more than 1,000 categories, such as
architecture, employment, sports, and financial services;
My.Subscriptions, which helps consumers manage their e-zine
subscriptions by automatically unsubscribing to e-zines they are no
longer interested in; and My.Events, a personal calendar keeper that
helps consumers remember birthdays, holidays and other events, and
emails them reminders and gift suggestions.
* BEST PRACTICES
Email marketing only to consumers who have given their permission to
receive messages is not only responsible, but it's also extremely
effective. In this issue, WebPromote Weekly brings you other examples of
effective Internet marketing. "Revamping Jaguar Online" reveals how
Ogilvyone Worldwide helped Jaguar bring its website in line with its
corporate image and expand its direct marketing capabilities. And "The
Winning Testimonial Formula" tells you how to get testimonials that will
give your business credibility.
By Ross Brown