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13 February, 2005

Stupidity tax

Not that I want to say "I told you so", but it's reported that internet privacy certifier TRUSTe has taken the virtually unprecedented step of instructing the main 'free iPods' company (and its subsidiaries), to remove TRUSTe’s privacy seal of approval from all of its sites*, for alleged misuse of private information, including the contact details of minors.

No-one's saying the pyramid schemes are total scams; people have received their free items. However, someone (sorry, I've lost the link) has calculated that even under ideal conditions, 85% of participants will be unable to complete their sign-ups, so the company will only have to send out a relatively tiny number of, let's face it, inexpensive items, in return for many thousands of e-mail and postal addresses, even financial details in some cases. Marketers would pay much more for those details than the cost of a few audio players.

"But I can unsubscribe from the offers as soon as I've received my iPod."

Well, yes, you can try. But be honest (with yourself): do you truly believe the companies will just discard your contact details when asked, and more importantly, do you really think the companies you signed up with are the only ones who received your contact details?

No, by signing up you're only assisting the marketing industry and actively inviting spam.

*: Having investigated further, I've found an assertion from the 'free iPods' parent company that TRUSTe is planning to recertify them after a training programme. If this is true (and it might be), it suggests that future participants may face fewer obvious problems, but that's a bit late for the existing participants.

[Via Neil's World]

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