// Internet Duct Tape

Controlling Your Privacy

Posted in Online Privacy and Reputation Management, Technology by engtech on April 03, 2008

Privacy and Rights

Today I tried out a new service by one of the smartest guys I know, Michael Geist. It’s called iOptOut and it’s a gateway for Canadians to voluntarily put themselves on do-not-call lists *before* the company contacts you, as well as giving you a legal recourse for when they call you anyways (those bastards). Within hours of signing up for the service I got 8 calls from 1-480-543-1171. Spooky coincidence.

Customer service representative indicated they worked for Fido. Trying to acquire different identification information, such as passport, drivers license, citizenship number, SIN number. Agent was rude the whole time and started asking if any of the information was fake.

They had the nerve to call us back again. Fido has confirmed they are not legitimate for selling Fido phone service. Ottawa Police (Canada) are now launching a fraud investigation. – Jeremy

(1-800 Notes is a great site for looking up the telemarketers before you give them any information — I’m glad I did)

Unfortunately, Rogers (who owns Fido) was one of the companies I chose not to opt out of because I have several services with them. Not that it would have done any good, seeing how these telemarketer scum are only claiming to work for Fido, plus they’re in the U.S.

But still, the coincidence was strange that they started phone spamming me on the same day that I signed up for iOptOut. I absolute trust Mr. Geist and his service, but I’m wondering if some companies are selling their do-not-call lists?

Earlier this week Adam Pash at Lifehacker talked about the IdentiFight web app that lets you put in an email address and find the associated accounts at Digg, Friendster, LiveJournal, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Last.fm, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Flickr and others. In the comments people were complaining about a marked increase in spam after using the service.

Definitely shenanigans. Gave 2 email addresses, both ones I receive mail for but aren’t very spammy in general (but ones I was willing to sacrifice). They each received the same new spam within 2 hours (same delay on each). — Kangarara

An email address that never had problems before is now receiving lots of “Undeliverable,” “Failure Notice,” and similar messages. In other words, my email address is now the apparent (though not actual) sender of tons of spam. — LHS

But before we go off into the deep end of conspiracy theories

Maybe people are seeing their addresses harvested, but what no one seems to have mentioned yet is that this could be happening at the social sites that IdentiFight queries. I’ve looked at the developer’s page, and he looks like a reputable human.

Who can say it’s not the social networking sites that he’s searching that’s doing the address collection? Any terms and conditions that appear to protect registered addresses wouldn’t apply to those addresses that aren’t associated with an account. Those addresses would then be ripe for sale.

Food for thought before everybody goes blaming a middleware developer for being a spammer. — whereswill

I’d like to reassure anyone who’s concerned (understandably): IdentiFight isn’t selling or passing on any of the email address given to it, except – as whereswill mentions – to the sites that are being searched, as part of the query.

The point of IdentiFight is to allow people to protect their privacy; selling email addresses to spammers wouldn’t make sense. — hubgawker (the guy behind IdentiFight)

After browsing through his site some more. I’m firmly on the side of the non-tinfoil hat wearers. The IdentiFight guy is awesome. He’s built the exact “using delicious for tracking reviews” site that I was thinking of making. (It’s completely awesome, if you’re a delicious power user you should try it out). He’s not even sneakily embedding his amazon referrer code.

It’s even more ridiculous to think a site Michael Geist is associated with would be selling my private information to telemarketers. We’re being oversensitive to new spam because we’ve just taken steps to avoid it.

But.

Spamming and telemarketing are serious business. Spock is one social site that uses very spammy tactics to attract users. Yahoo Mash creates a profile for you when a friend searches for you. Network Solutions registers the domain names you search for. And lets not forget Quechup, RapLeaf or old favorites like sms.ac. So many sites have spammed your address book the second they had access to your email address and password. I’m sure some are collecting the lists of email address from when people try to “find a friend”.

The truth of the matter is that some websites will sell your contact information whenever they can get their hands on it. It doesn’t even have to be the company doing it officially. It could be one employee abusing his privileges to fund his side business. Any time we give out our contact information their is the potential for misuse. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

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7 Responses

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  1. Ross said, on April 03, 2008 at 1:00 am

    One thing I noticed while working for an unnamed ISP is that the customers frequently mentioned that the ISP was probably selling their email address to spammers etc. What people sometimes fail to recognize is that email address lists aren’t particularly valuable anymore. The ISP in question, however evil, wouldn’t have sold the email addresses for the simple reason that they couldn’t get very much money at all the info. It’s easier to just set the spamming software to literally guess email addresses, and spam away.

    Other personal info – phone numbers, (physical) addresses, shopping history etc – probably has value. Email addresses don’t.

  2. Kristin said, on April 03, 2008 at 2:29 am

    This is a very good reason for having an ‘online’ email you use for signing up, commenting on blogs etc. etc. but actually don’t use for sending out any emails.

  3. Webber said, on April 03, 2008 at 9:26 am

    You know, I really concern with my privacy now.

  4. josephgelb said, on April 04, 2008 at 1:03 am

    im always amazed at what these businesses doctors lawyers and other so called ‘good’ societal robots can ‘legally’ do which is in quotation marks because they flagrantly break the laws and scam kill and ruin peoples lives and the people know it (see the deffinition of hegemony) yet no matter what happens the system gets worse and the joke is on us

  5. Lord Byron said, on April 04, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Michael Geist is very reputable. I seriously doubt the use of the IOPTOUT site for spamming.

    Anyway I signed up a couple of days ago. I’ll see what happens.

  6. [...] Controlling Your Privacy Today I tried out a new service by one of the smartest guys I know, Michael Geist. It’s called iOptOut and it’s a gateway for Canadians to voluntarily put themselves on do-not-call lists *before* the company contacts you, as well as giving you a legal recourse for when they call you anyways (those bastards). Within hours of signing up for the service I got 8 calls from 1-480-543-1171. Spooky coincidence. [...]

  7. patty said, on April 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    here is the real canadian do not call registry

    https://cornerstonewebmedia.com/cma/submit.asp

    It’s listed on the bell website and the CRTC website


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