Web Firms Choose Profit Over Privacy

from the privacy-schmivacy dept

Last week we mentioned how many consumers were confused by privacy policies and often assumed that if a company had any sort of privacy policy, their information was safe – even if the privacy policy said otherwise. It appears that unscrupulous marketers know this and are doing their best to exploit people’s misunderstanding about privacy policies for their own profits. This is basically an entire article about sneaky marketers who seem to think that the best way to get information out to people is to annoy them when they don’t want to be annoyed. There are stories of companies who say they won’t do anything with your private info… until they decide to sell it – at which point they might send you a notice telling you their privacy policy has changed and your info is up for sale. There are companies who agree not to “sell” your info – but “rent” it instead. There’s apparently big business in trying to take various lists and merge them in some way to get even more data about you – which is then dumped into a database that you don’t even know about – and which can be resold at will. Basically, it’s not a good situation at all. There’s one company that provides shopping cart services for many small web merchants. While most people may check out the privacy policy of the merchants (who probably promise not to sell info), they’ll probably miss the fact that there’s an entirely different privacy policy on the shopping cart itself – and there they claim the right to resell your info to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, marketers, when confronted with these things, say that these are all “opt-in” situations – which appears to mean “if you didn’t opt-out, you opted-in” in their minds. They’ll also let anyone else “opt-in” for you – with no confirmation or “double opt-in” procedures in place. Finally, there are the marketers who will come up with just about any excuse to suggest you have an “existing business relationship”. As one person in the article says: “Some companies, like psycho ex-boyfriends, tend to see relationships where they don’t exist.”

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