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Are You Being Sold? 21 August 2001 Edition
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It seems that as we move into the 21st century, people are (as was predicted by many) being relegated to the status of mere numbers or identifiers.

For example -- my power company used to be PowerNZ but it seems that, as a customer, I've been sold to On Energy. Nobody asked me if I wanted to be switched to another supplier, I was just one of hundreds of thousands of people who became simply a record in a computer file that was handed over from one company to another.

Now, it would appear, those who handed over their email addresses to the online marketer E-force, are in a similar situation.

According to this report the registered users database of names and email addresses collected by E-force has attracted the interest of "several parties."

Creditors of the failed company, and the liquidators or receivers acting for them, will naturally want to recover as much value from the company's assets as possible -- but what about the rights of those whose names/addresses are in that database?

What if the database is sold to a company that decides to spam the hell out of the people on that list?

If your name is on that list, do you have any rights other than the right to complain if you get spammed?

Given the fragility of Net-based businesses and the value ascribed to qualified email lists, it might pay you to think twice before you sign up to any similar ventures in future -- who knows what will happen to your data if/when such a company goes bust.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • I don't care that I'm being sold... - Idiot/Savant
  • Have Your Say

    Telecom Stays Quiet And Banks The Cash
    It's good to see that IDG have picked up on a story I first covered in this column back in May, and then again just a week ago.

    The IDG story says "switching the modem off is the only way to avoid getting billed for downloads you don't want" -- which is kind of confusing -- since it also states "Telecom recommends users of its JetStream DSL always-on high speed internet connection deploy a firewall to protect themselves while surfing, but it will still charge users who are the victims of a denial of service (DOS) attack because of the way it bills its customers."

    If my understanding of the issues is correct, those DSL users who have a dynamic IP number will be safe if they turn their modems off -- but those with a static IP number won't.

    Perhaps this is why Telecom offer their bandwidth-limited JetStart DSL option with dynamic IP and no per-MB charges for residential users?

    Have they figured out that it would be cheaper to provide a non-capped service for such users than to repeatedly argue the toss when unexpected volume charges appear on the account each month as a result of external probes or DOS attacks?

    Also, despite looking around the JetStream website for some time this morning, I could see no advisory from Telecom that users turn off their DSL modems when not in use.

    Surely, given that they have acknowledged the problem of DOS attacks racking up charges against a user's account, they should include this warning -- or is it all just money in the bank for them?

    That "Sinister" Windows Tracking File
    The NZ Herald leads today's online edition (and maybe the print one?) with a story exposing the existence of a hidden "sinister" file that tracks PC users' Internet activity.

    This seems to be an artifact of Windows Internet Explorer and something which Microsoft claim is a "problem" -- which is a euphemism for what I wonder?

    But hey folks -- the answer is (and always has been) very simple:

    If you want to avoid walking around with a virtual "kick-me" sign on your PC, escape most of the perils of booby-trapped emails, and avoid the "sinister" history files -- ditch IE and Outlook.

    Get yourself a browser such as Opera and free yourself from the IE death-trap.

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