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Such a Thing as too Paranoid About Privacy? 231

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the depends-on-how-much-you-like-spam dept.
jackoahoy! writes "As we become more connected, we have the right to be paranoid. But the question is: where do we draw the line between sane and insane privacy? CoolTechZone's Gundeep Hora tackles this issue and uses a recent blog entry on Infoworld to illustrate his point. From the article: 'Whether it's OnRebate.com or any other rebate managing company, asking for the industry you work in and your job function aren't the most personal questions they could possibly ask. However, they must carefully define the conditions for collecting such information. Targeted advertising by user opt-in newsletters and e-mail campaigns (unlike spamming) or internal market research to get a grasp on its customer base isn't unethical, in my opinion. And people making a big deal out of two vaguely placed questions is insensible and out of proportion. If you really are that paranoid about privacy, then do what this reader did and put in wrong information under those questions.'"
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Such a Thing as too Paranoid About Privacy?

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  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:37PM (#14337860) Journal
    ...to do the right thing.

    If that's their reasoning, then let them ask for the demographic info WHEN the user opts in.

    Otherwise they have it sitting there, calling thier name like a chocolate cake in the fridge at 3am. Yeah, they'll never give in to the temptation... and that cake is still sitting there, too.
    • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:56PM (#14338106)
      I think the important question that would solve all this is "What is the chocolate cake?" What exactly can they do with this information? Granted I don't want them to have it, but what can they do with it that really would hurt me? Our country is pretty far away from Hong Kong (on the Orwellian map), where you get 10 years prison for spitting gum out on the sidewalk. I don't see collecting information to be a chocolate cake. Maybe one my mom baked, but certainly nothing appetizing at all. It might look nice on the outside, having all those names and numbers and addresses, but it would take a lot of digestion energy to do something useful with it.
      • It might look nice on the outside, having all those names and numbers and addresses, but it would take a lot of digestion energy to do something useful with it.

        Not all that difficult. Things start to slack, that info is some mighty fine barter to the right buyer. A 'partnership' later and our data collecting friends have a nice influx of new capital, and some marketing firm claims 'preexisting relationship' and spams/telemarkets the hell out of us.

      • What exactly can they do with this information?

        The common-sense answer is 'they can choke in their big mass of data.'

        Which leads to the common-sense approach to take: it can never be cost-effective to keep and the kind of tracking information that gets the paranoids all frothy. Anybody who has experience managing big masses of data could tell us this. So it's all hand-wringing by people without much of a clue.

      • Our country is pretty far away from Hong Kong (on the Orwellian map), where you get 10 years prison for spitting gum out on the sidewalk.

        Perhaps you're thinking about Singapore? They're the country that's famous for banning chewing gum, among other facist laws. I've never heard of harsh punishments for chewing gum in Hong Kong.
      • Our country is pretty far away from Hong Kong (on the Orwellian map), where you get 10 years prison for spitting gum out on the sidewalk.

        You're thinking of Singapore, perhaps, where streets are clean, and the girls are oh so hot. Hong Kong also has hot girls, but the streets are dirty and the sky is brown.

    • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:31AM (#14338190)
      The inverse is true. The advertisers/marketers don't care about you they care about your kind. If they were that interested in you, they would just target you and steal from you, they want X number of people similar to you. There are things like "target demographics", "males between 25 and 35", "housewives" or "stay at home moms" if they have kids, etc.

      Certain products, goods, or services may appeal to statistical outliers, but any marketer or advertiser never appeals to them, they appeal to the middle 2 standard deviations. Niche products even do this thing. About 1 in 5 women are into anal sex, butt 4 out of 5 are not into it and would not be into seeing advertisements for a better anal lube on TV even though it might even change their opinion of that kind of sex. Herpes medication is accepted though, because everybody knows somebody that has it.

      I'm not paranoid about privacy in marketing. Nothing I buy that is legal to buy is that interesting. The good stuff is not advertised, nor needs to be. I've heard that Nukes go for something like $10 mil. Buying those might be of interest to some people, but being that the US government is too stupid to figure out which 3rd world country's government owns them or not, I can buy them in relative comfort.

  • Richard Stallman
    *ducks*
    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday December 26, 2005 @05:21AM (#14338926)

      Stallman is mainly concerned with Freedom, not privacy. The two do happen to overlap, of course, but there's no reason to insult the man for caring, and for being aware of the issues. That's why most of us are here talking about it. Also, what Stallman seems "paranoid" about generally turns out to be the reality of the situation just a few years down the line. The man is a visionary, not a quack. The success of the Free Software movement, Open Source, and Linux, and the attempted corporate dominance of Internet Explorer, Microsoft, and others are all here as evidence of Stallman's deep understanding. Probably best not to deride the guy who's kept your online world sane, huh? ;)

      Setting that aside and addressing the article itself, I would point out that privacy is always a trade-off with ease of use. Regardless of what the ideal level of privacy is, we do need good privacy, which few of us have achieved. Real security and privacy is hard, and you're far more likely to run into usability issues before you run into overkill issues.

      So, I think it basically boils down to this: implement the best security and privacy you can reasonably expect yourself to keep up without getting lazy.

  • by sphealey (2855) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:43PM (#14337879)
    If the information is so trivial and useless, why do they collect it?

    If the information has value, why don't they pay me for it?

    Is there any validity to the theories (and software) of social networking?

    sPh
    • Quite. If they want to know this stuff so badly, they can compensate me with the only thing that will work: money.

      No money, no info. It's that simple.

      I wouldn't mind all the spam I get if I got paid to receive it, ya know?
      • But you are compensated. You get better deals on v1agr4 and loads of other products.

        On a serious note, isn't this what reward cards are for from stores? give them your details in exchange for better deals & money off.
        • No, those cards are a mechanism by which you allow the stores to build up a personal profile on you in return for not having to pay a surcharge for not using the card. Yesterdays "sale prices" are today's "card prices."
          • by Mmm coffee (679570) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:57AM (#14338286) Journal
            I'll second this from personal experience. I live in a small town and we have one grocery store that was privately owned since before I was born (I'm 25 now). About three months ago it got sold to some godforsaken company, and the first thing they did was institute a card program as was mentioned in previous posts.

            Before the buy out a box of hot pockets was $2. Now they're $3, with card and signs telling you of your HUGE savings with the card - they're $2 with the card. Cheap bag of chips were $1.50, now they're $1.50 with card, $2 without. Diet Coke $1 before and with card now, $1.50 without. And so on with damn near everything in the store.

            To get this card I have to give out my home phone number, address, email address, and show my drivers license to prove I am who I say I am. My state uses my social security number as my driver's license number.

            My mom signed up for this and they took that information to spam her email box, do telemarketing, put her on a crapload of junk mail lists, sell that information all over the place, and fuck knows what else. For what? To pay what I paid at regular prices before they bought the store. And then when I decline to sign up for the card the employees not only look at me like I have a third arm growing out of my forehead, but actively argue with me.

            This seriously pisses me off. I miss the days when the owners lived a few streets down from me, I really do. I now pay a $30-60/mo surcharge just to be left the hell alone. :(
            • by fred911 (83970) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:23AM (#14338355)
              "This seriously pisses me off. I miss the days when the owners lived a few streets down from me, I really do. I now pay a $30-60/mo surcharge just to be left the hell alone"

              Why? All ya do is say, "I forgot my card, scan a store card". If they refuse (happend to me once) tell them you aren't buying *anything* without the discount. It's much easier for them to scan a store card
              then to put back everything they scanned if they dont.

              I never do *any* cards for discounts
            • >> To get this card I have to ... show my drivers license <<

              Nobody can require you to show a driver's license except a policeman pulling you over for a traffic violation. Driver's licenses are for driving only.

              There is no requirement in the United States to even possess, much less carry, *any* identification *whatsoever*.
            • This seriously pisses me off. I miss the days when the owners lived a few streets down from me, I really do. I now pay a $30-60/mo surcharge just to be left the hell alone.

              So lie about your age/name/etc. or don't fill it in. I have 3 store cards, and I haven't filled in more than my name on any of them.

        • by MarkusQ (450076) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:58PM (#14338114) Journal

          I freaked out the people at my local Albertson's a few years back (side note: If it's "My store" why is it called "Albertson's"? My name isn't Albertson) when they started doing the valued customers card or what ever it was they called it. Every time I went in, they kept asking me if I had my card yet, if I wanted to get a card, and so forth. And they kept going on about how much I would save.

          Every time, I said no.

          Finally, I made a form asking for basically the same information they wanted, and offered to pay 10% more every time I shopped if they would just fill out the form and give little cards with bar codes of my choosing on them to all the checkers, so I could scan them with my cuecat each time I checked out. Easy as pie, and it would probably double their profit on my purchases.

          This resulted in very amusing conversations with the supervisor, and assistant manager, and a manager--throughout which, I'm proud to say, I kept a straight face. The upshot was, they said no.

          I said that was fine, but they really were passing up a good thing, and I'd be sure to make them the same offer the next time I came in. And the time after that.

          Oddly, I don't think they ever tried to sign me up for their stupid program again.

          --MarkusQ

          • I have all those cards, but no company has my info.
            Of all the times I've gotten the card, only once has the vashier tried to get me to fill out the form on the spot - they usually just toss you the card and the form, trusting you to fill the form in later. I never do.

            The one time the cashier DID wait for me to fill in the form, Mickey Mouse got signed up for a grocery store card.
            • I have all those cards, but no company has my info.

              If you have paid with a credit card in conjunction with the tracker card, there is a fair chance that your personal info has been correlated with your tracker card. It doesn't even require the complicity of the credit card issuer -- only that you have given that information to another merchant in conjunction with using your credit card and that both the grocery and the other merchant use the same data aggregation service.
    • If the information has value, why don't they pay me for it?

      Because they can get it for cheaper and easier in bulk from people you have to tell the info to who then turn around and sell it, or lose it to hackers.
    • If the information has value, why don't they pay me for it?

      I think the problem is how little your information is worth. The information on millions of people is worth something, but each individual's information is probably worth a fraction of a cent.

      Disclaimer: I am not in the mass-marketing or data collecting industry, so I'm saying this based on what I've seen and read on the amount people sell information for.

      Now, what I do know about is transaction costs. If it costs $0.50 to send you the money y

    • .. they care about your demographic.

      Your information is useless (in a relative sense). Your demographics is not.

      Information on the buying trends of a certain salary range in a certain area are only valuble in a large-scale demographic. Even if a dollar value was assigned to it, your own *personal* share of that pie would be infentessimal.

      Do you really expect them to pay you 10 cents to fill out those fields? Because in actual fact, they are - via the rebate program / rewards program / whatever.
    • If the information has value, why don't they pay me for it?

      Let me see, less information means poorly targeted advertising. Which means (a) you see even more adverts than otherwise (b) the company spends more on advertising for the same amount of sales. Which means that in order to make the same profit margin, the price has to go up.

      Still think you don't get any value from your precious information, sport?

  • My answers (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:47PM (#14337894)
    For a rebate on a new CD/DVD-burner:

    Industry: RIAA.
    Job Function: Extorting the unlucky.

    I'm still waiting for my rebate.

  • to paraphrase... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:51PM (#14337906) Homepage
    To paraphrase the famous quote: Those who would give up essential privacy to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither privacy nor safety.
    • There was also that quote from that movie (you know, the one with that guy*):

      The issue's not whether you're paranoid, the issue is whether you're paranoid enough.

      *That guy that was a cop or something and he did stuff, or stuff happened to him, I forget. Oh, and Juliette Lewis was in it.**

      **Don't bother posting to tell me it was Strange Days, because I'm pretty sure I'd remember if that was the movie. Or at least, I think I'm pretty sure.***

      ***Oh, yeah and Angela Bassett was in it too. Oh, and I think the gu
    • To paraphrase the famous quote: Those who would give up essential privacy to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither privacy nor safety.

      Yet those that would give up any pretense of originality (let alone understanding of the words they ^C^V) can quite easily purchase a little karma. C'est la vie.
    • by lasindi (770329)
      To paraphrase the famous quote: Those who would give up essential privacy to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither privacy nor safety.

      Of course, the actual quote [wikiquote.org] is: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

      So, if you assert that your paraphrase is accurate, you assert that privacy and liberty are the same thing, which is where I would differ. Losing privacy can mean giving up liberty; there are some things we do
  • by aukset (889860) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:52PM (#14337912) Journal
    I got an iPod for christmas. I installed the software, which required my name and email address, and was forced to opt out for spam. Then I had to update the iPod software. I was forced to enter my name and email address and opt-out for spam. Then I had to update the iTunes software, where I was yet again forced to enter my email address and opt-out for spam. Thats 3 times in 15 minutes that a single company attempted to get my information and permission for spam. At this point, I was so pissed off that I entered a really long, expletive-laced fake email address to download iTunes.

    It doesn't matter to me if a company has a reasonable privacy policy when they do everything in their power to get your permission for spam anyway. Like all advertising, it is invasive, persistent, underhanded, and extremely annoying. As far as I'm concerned, it has nothing to do with privacy. It is unreasonable marketing practices that piss me off. I think it pisses a lot of people off, and the backlash from that is a demand for more privacy.

    • If you opt-out of the spam, you do not have to give your name or e-mail address.
    • Thats 3 times in 15 minutes that a single company attempted to get my information and permission for spam.

      <pedantry>
      You cannot give permission for unsolicited communications. If you do, they're solicited and hence not spam.
      </pedantry>

      Anyway, realplayer (for example) is a million times more annoying. iTunes does not require that you supply Apple with your details at all - you need only give them your e-mail if you want their newsletter thingumy.
    • Sorry you encountered problems with that, and I don't doubt that Apple has a few spamlists or does "market research", however, at least the iTunes download can be gotten without an email address by just unchecking the newsletter boxes. Since you don't want any of the newsletters they don't need to send anything to you and the email goes unchecked. Learned this one night when I needed iTunes and was too lazy to type gibberish. Oh yeah, pretty lazy.
    • At this point, I was so pissed off that I entered a really long, expletive-laced fake email address to download iTunes.

      I usually use sales@<stupidCompany>.com

      Hey, maybe "stupidCompany"'s spamming software or mail server isn't yet configured to throw away their own spam. One can hope..
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:07PM (#14337952) Journal
    As we become more connected, we have the right to be paranoid.

    Bullshit. You don't have the right to be paranoid... no one can stop you from being paranoid... but that doesn't somehow impart a right to you in the same sense that you have the right to free speech or to practice your religion. Sure, you might want to be paranoid, or be inclined to be more paranoid... but that's a behavior and action a choice on your part, not some sort of right. If anything our "rights" are being assaulted by careless use of the term "right"... everything is a right so that truly important rights become lost in the sea of rights to paranoia, and right to wear a tinfoil hat in public, and my right to run Linux on every single thing that might sustain an electric current.

    Please just disregard this idiotic thread.
    • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:38PM (#14338062) Journal
      In think you orthogonally hit a nail on the head. The problem with even saying that one has a "right to be paranoid" actually demeans and trivializes the Right to Privacy (a basic human right embodied in the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution).

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


      Also, see the Ninth Amendment:

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  • that scares me. Sure, this is only a question about the industry in which you work. This other site asks you if you're married or not. Another if you have babies. Slowly but surely outfits like these are building a profile of you that would put the FBI and most stalkers to shame.

    Maybe we are overreacting but what happens with this data in the long run? Who controls it? If the company that holds it goes bankrupt or is bought by another, where does the data go?
    • I worked in the market research industry for a data collection company for a number of years. The fact is that everything about you is WIDELY available to anyone willing to pay for it. I can take your cell phone number and get your name, address and social security number for $0.40 (if I buy 10,000 or more and have a reasonable sounding excuse for needing your social), it's not heavily regulated unless it's medical, legal or government information. Most companies who collect information about you (particula
  • We don't you moron! You draw your own line, make your own decisions. This bullshit idea that "we", whatever the hell that means, have to come to some sort of consensus is idiotic. Make up your own mind about what works for you and leave the rest of use alone.
    • Unfortunately for you, "we" is usually the peoples' elected representatives and their consensus will probably differ from yours.

      When it isn't elected representatives, it is usually the industry leaders who decide that self-regulation is better than gov't regulation. This process tends to lack such things as enforcability, accountability, public input, etc.

      It is incredibly naive of you to think you can get away with "leave the rest of us alone" as your final word on the matter.
  • by segment (695309) <sil @ p o l i t rix.org> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:11PM (#14337974) Homepage Journal
    Something I wrote a while back... (follow the links)

    Joe Dogooder is not a criminal, in fact Joe is your average, well do-gooder. Pays his taxes, supports his family, visits his community church, where mind you, he's visited since his days as an altar boy. Normally Joe wakes up around 5:00am in hopes of making some decaffeinated coffee, followed by a quick glimpse at the New York Times Online [nytimes.com], while his television is tuned to the news. Today however, Joe woke up at 5:30am - and although he won't be late, he decided not to watch television. Instead he is going to work early in order to catch up with some work.

    After his shower, getting dressed, kissing his family goodbye he grabs his trusted cellphone, and heads for his car. "Welcome to OnStar [competitionchev.ab.ca]" flares for a quick second before he turns the service off. He'd know his way to work driving blindfolded, he's been there plenty of times. After stopping for some coffee and paying with his credit card at the local 7Eleven at 6:15am, he makes a right on Main Street leading to the turnpike. Joe always has money on his EZ-Pass [infoworld.com], and although it has been hacked in the past, his information is now safe. He continues to work and breezes right through the toll-booths it is now 6:21am and he's right on time.

    Getting off at the Broadway exit, Joe is running pretty early, 6:41am. Pulling into the Shell gas station at 6:45am, he fills up his car and swipes his credit card again through the machine so he doesn't have to walk an extra 20 feet to pay the cashier. Stops at the local Megasupershopper store and buys some chewing gum, a soda, and some shaving cream [bbc.co.uk]. Back in his car, he finally pulls into the corporate garage at 7:00am, swipes his identification card, and continues on his way. This is pretty much a daily routine for Joe, and millions like him.

    So who is this average Joe and why should you care? Joe is noone really important, what's important is that you understand how Joe's movements were tracked and how dangerous can be at some point. TiVo recently shoved their foot in their mouths [cnn.com] when they announced that Janet Jackson's breast of mass destruction was the most rewound video capture. Meaning? Watch a TiVo, they'll know it, what time, what it was, and who did it - you do after all have your information attached to it.

    Joe also decided to check the news via the New York Times [nytimes.com], and he had to sign into his account in order to do so, meaning his information was gathered there too. What time he logged in, and from where. Sure he could have registered with false information, after all it's free, but unless he decided to manually change his IP address somehow - whether via proxy or other means - the New York Times [nytimes.com] has his information. This is not to say in any way the New York Times [nytimes.com] is selling your information or using it against you, I don't know their policies, I'm simply trying to make you aware of the signs of the 'Times'

    We can also average out a time where Joe starts his car every single day for as long as we'd like using his OnStar information [competitionchev.ab.ca], we can determine a definitive pattern of his daily life with ease. What about the chewing gum?, simple, RFID tags gave us that info. Now this may not be a big deal considering Joe Dogooder is an upstanding citizen so he would have nothing to hide. John Cheatman is an altogether different story.

    John has been having an affair on his wife of 30 years, and he happens to be a millionaire. Wonder what he'd do if someone threw together a video portrait of his weekly (T

    • Now this may not be a big deal considering Joe Dogooder is an upstanding citizen so he would have nothing to hide. John Cheatman is an altogether different story.

      It's not a big deal, and most of us have nothing to hide that isn't already hidden, so what exactly is your point? John has been having an affair on his wife of 30 years, and he happens to be a millionaire. Wonder what he'd do if someone threw together a video portrait of his weekly (Thursday 7:00pm to be exact) sexcapade with his executive assi
    • We can also average out a time where Joe starts his car every single day for as long as we'd like using his OnStar information, we can determine a definitive pattern of his daily life with ease. What about the chewing gum?, simple, RFID tags gave us that info.

      ...providing we're standing *really* close to the packet, and/or have a detector the size of a house (minimum area of detector varies with the square of the distance to the tag), and have RFID tags that are far cheaper than are currently available

  • Oh, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lheal (86013) <lheal1999@yahoo . c om> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:13PM (#14337980) Journal
    Targeted advertising by user opt-in newsletters and e-mail campaigns (unlike spamming) or internal market research to get a grasp on its customer base isn't unethical, in my opinion.

    Saying something isn't unethical "in my opinion" borders on redundancy. Ethics are simply a set of defined rules, and by definition are subjective. But that's not my real point.

    Targeting advertising email is spam. The thing that distinguishes spam is the sender's attitude toward non-respondents. A spammer doesn't care what his non-respondents think of him -- he's only interested in the response rate. An advertiser with an ounce of sense realizes that he's going to drive away people by spamming, and doesn't want that. A spammer doesn't care.

    A targeted email campaign may be more effective than simple spam, but it's still spam. Cleaning up your list will improve your response rate, but it still is going to drive people away.

    I'm not generally in favor of the death penalty, but in the case of people who use my inbox for their foul spam, I'm on the fence.

  • My take: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:20PM (#14338005)
    "Targeted advertising by user opt-in newsletters and e-mail campaigns (unlike spamming) or internal market research to get a grasp on its customer base isn't unethical, in my opinion."

    Prvacy violation or not, the information is obviously of value to the advertisers, especially if they're paying a third-party to collect it. If it's valuable enough for them to pay money for it, it's valuable enough for me not to part with it without seeing some of that money.
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:26PM (#14338025) Journal
    This article COMPLETELY misses the point. I don't care if spammers know if I'm a university student or a fast food worker. What I do care about, is being hassled to tell them. When I buy something, I don't want to have to bother telling them my postcode, phone number, or which industry I work in. Now if it served some purpose to the item/service I was purchasing, fine. But when it's just to sell my info (or to perform their l33t marketing tools on) I'm going to get annoyed.

    As advertisers work to get into my home more and more, I'm becoming less and less tolerant of them. Unobtrusive ads that don't collect or use peronal information on me, I'm fine with. But when they start serving me ads based on what country I live in, or pester me about what my age is or are louder then the shows I'm watching, I become annoyed. It isn't about privacy, it's about comfort. I'm not going to provide them with my personal information, unless they offer me a damn good reason for them to have it. They should use what information I naturally give them, and be happy they get that. The idea that it's perfectly fine for shops to expect me to answer any questions they want, is ridiculous (IMO). I'm going shopping to buy items, I'm not going shopping to provide them with demographic information for them to utilize/sell. They should remember what the purpose of their stores are, and to stop trying to be advertising firms. I'm not going to lie to them, I'm simply going to refuse to tell them. If they're going to annoy me with asking for my personal information, I'm going to annoy them by not playing along.
    • by MartinB (51897)

      But when they start serving me ads based on what country I live in... I become annoyed.

      I'm not sure you mean this - I think you'd rather not have adverts that are entirely irrelevant, for products you can't buy and/or aren't at all interested in.

      Good targeting means actually you see fewer ads, because the advertisers don't have to waste money on advertising stuff to people who have absolutely no chance of every buying it.

      This is why spam is so pernicious - it doesn't target one bit. It just indisc

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:29PM (#14338038)
    The rebate in question is affiliated with Tigerdirect, which anyone who trolls for incredible internet pricing will tell you is notorious for not actually issuing rebates, or when they do it's 6-9 months later. So it's not as if we're talking about a particularly ethical company to begin with.

    But on another issue, I find the linked article itself to be a troll. The framework of the question starts out right off that bat as "is this sane or insane privacy". By polarzing the issue into a "sane or insane" we lose perspective on this issue and start fighting for one of the two particular sides the author has chosen. This sounds more like a Crossfire! type discussion than a real look at the issues.

    Stepping back from the linked article perspective, I'd like to present a different one. Is not providing all the rebate details upfront a breach of contract? If I advertise a $20 rebate for a product, but fail to disclose that you'll have also have to buy $200 in magazine subscriptions until after you've already bought the product, that's not a valid contract.

    My major problem (and I think the original posters major problem) is the lack of upfront details on the rebate. Had they told him you'd have to provide job function, company size, etc before they'd issue the rebate then you can make an informed decision if those specific details are worth the rebate price. When they don't tell you the full details of the contract then I think that's at least an ethical violation, and possibly an invalid contract. If you dig deep enough you can eventually find the form to fill out without first buying the product, but who expects a rebate form to ask anything but where to send the check, and who to make the check out to? I certainly don't.

    But as I said previously, tigerdirect isn't exactly well known for holding up their end of the bargain.
    • I'm 2 for 2 on tigerdirect HDD rebates, each for at least $50. They do a good job of providing the complete rebate info on their site before you even buy the product. I actually trust their rebates more because of this attention to detail.
      • It's great that you've had such luck, but there's loads of others that have had had terrible "luck". Some people win the lottery too, but that doesn't mean most people will. The point is that just looking at your own personal experiences is a terrible way to find truth. I'll trust the experiences of the countless people who've not gotten rebates from them over a couple people who have.

    • They lost my bussiness. I built a computer for a friend. Not something fast, just a plain black box that could burn cd/dvds. I used his credit card for the parts and just figured I'd take the 30-40 bucks in rebates for compensation. No dice. No rebates.

      Because of Tigerdirect.com I send EVERY rebate from I get now via the U.S. Mail, 1st Class with delivery confirmation. An extra 3.85 that I should not have to spend... /McK
  • by Ruff_ilb (769396)
    When the extra time lost from reinforcing privacy issues exceeds the average cost(that is, probability of privacy being violated x time it takes to recover from privacy violation), then it's useless. We see this all time - companies building shoddy products because it's worth their time to just send a new product or deal with tech support for the few who whine than to remake/design their product. Notice - if your data is infinitely valuable, you can't ever be too paranoid.
  • Need To Know Basis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:50PM (#14338088) Homepage Journal
    You draw the line when whoever your giving data to, doesn't need to know. For instance, if I buy something in a hardware store, and the clerk asks for my name and address for the recipt, I'll be annoyed, but given that the expensive hardware may break, I'll go along generally.

    However, if the company starts asking my age, education level, bank account number, purchase history etc, I'm going to be seriously offended. If they do, I just lie outright. Give the dirty data fiends some serious false positives. Why I'm a 36 year old primary school dropout who will be buying at least $20,000 worth of home applicances this year.

  • Thou shalt always (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:06AM (#14338128)
    provide false and misleading information.
    NEVER give anyone anything, ever.
    The *ONLY* exceptions are banking and police/gubmint.
    Everyone else gets a flaming chainsaw up the ass sideways..
    • Re:Thou shalt always (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Provide false and misleading information?

      You mean like telling your professor how Homeland Security visited you [nyud.net] because you tried to get Chairman Mao's Little Red Book via inter-library loan?

      Then being exposed as a liar [nyud.net] because you could not resist embellishing the story and some professor did some fact checking?
  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:17AM (#14338146) Journal
    ...using the money argument when a cashier asks for too much. Face it - typical information collection at a cash register (as an example) is big bucks - and when someone crosses a line, I answer that I'll be happy to sell them the information.

    The result is the typical baffled look, since it isn't the typical "paranoid" response. I then ask them how much their company paid for the "collection module" for their POS software - I know it isn't cheap. I then ask what they paid to have it setup, and have the results of this current campaign implemented. That isn't cheap either.

    I then ask how long it takes the average cashier to gather the desired information. 15 seconds? How long does the average cash transaction take without this? 30 seconds? By gathering this info, we've effectively cut the cashier throughput - meaning to maintain that throughput, the store needs to increase its cashier staff by that amount... a full third in this example. That is NOT cheap.

    Clearly my zipcode is worth an assload of money, I conclude... and if they are willing to spend THAT kind of money to get it, then I'm an idiot to just GIVE AWAY something they deem so valuable.

    That's the general concept, at least... and it is quite effective as it cannot be argued against. This information clearly has significant value; Paranoid has nothing to do with it.
  • by Yosho (135835) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:35AM (#14338201) Homepage
    By definition, paranoia is a mental delusion. If you are paranoid about your security, you've already gone too far. Maybe "cautious" is the word you're looking for (and no, I don't think you can be too cautious).
  • Strange Days (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mark Trade (172948)
    The issue isn't whether you're (too) paranoid, but whether you're paranoid enough.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:04AM (#14338307)
    is that "having nothing to hide" is not semantically equivalent to "having nothing to lose". In fact, if you do have something to lose, then by definition you have something worth hiding.
  • *twitch* (Score:2, Funny)

    by n.e.watson (835126)
    Such a Thing as too Paranoid About Privacy? That's what the Government WANTS YOU TO THINK!11!!11!1 *twitch* ... .
  • by 0-9a-f (445046) <drhex0x06@poztiv.com> on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:27AM (#14338368) Homepage

    Let me throw a different perspective in here...

    As we are social animals, we are bound to want to share something of ourselves with others. We need to believe that we have something of value to share with friends as well as strangers. Exactly what information we choose to share is determined by how much trust we believe we can place in the other person. ("Person" including groups and organisations as well as individuals).

    That's what the real problem comes down to - we are being given no choice. We are made to believe that our information is of no value, and so we should willingly give it up to some person whom we increasingly find ourselves unable to trust. It is not that we don't want to trust them, so much as the behaviour of those people reinforces to us that we cannot trust them.

    When asked to provide private information as partial payment for goods or services (or to receive discounts or rebates on same), we instinctively feel cheated because we are trading our humanity for cash. We fight down that instinct at every turn, as we manage to convince ourselves that it is only a small loss for such great gain.

    As other posters have pointed out before, if it's really of so little value, why are we repeatedly given such incentives to give out such information? Especially when the information we provide is so irrelevant for the goods or services provided?

    A credit card company needs to know that you are 18 years of age, and have some way of uniquely identifying you - but date of birth is too much information for the former, and too little for the latter. Is the email address I provide when I enrol going to be used to save trees, or is it really just cheaper marketing? We're lapping up the convenience on offer, enjoying the opportunity to get something for almost nothing, and feeling trapped by something we just can't put our fingers on. And now, as individuals faced with increasingly long and complex forms (and an out-of-control legal system), none of us really knows how much information is required by law, and how much is just an opportunistic marketing grab.

    In the end, I don't believe the problem is that we lack privacy. Most forms carry no penalty for lying. No, the problem is that we neither know nor trust the people we're giving our details to. And that's a situation that won't change while most of us chase after our personal privacy.


  • Not without a whole lot of painstaking work...
  • We should never cease to be paranoid about our privacy. If you are a US citizen you have a right to be secure in your quarters, gaurenteed by the consitution. And until they ratify that (like anyone will vote for that) then we are entitled to that right.
  • Bad example (Score:2, Informative)

    by davitf (522408)
    The industry and job function fields in the registration form [onrebate.com] mentioned in the blog entry [infoworld.com] are clearly indicated as optional in a line above them. What is the problem then?

    Okay, maybe the customer didn't see the indication, but it doesn't seem like TigerDirect was purposelly trying to hide it in order to make him think he had to give the information. Or maybe the customer tried to send the form without filling those fields and got an error (I've had similar problems), but in this case this would be a very

  • King of the Hill character Dale Gribble.

    He orders pizza under the pseudonym Rusty Shackleford. That is the point at which one becomes "too paranoid about privacy"
  • We've all heard about the bar code modifications carried out to defraud various stores. Rather than do that, shoot for the grey area and modify the barcode on those store savings cards to remove any traceable data; a few members of the local 2600 group have been doing so with great success.

    If I remember correctly they've managed to combine the 2 major bar code schemes used my the local markets into a single barcode and printed our their own "Preferred Shopper" cards which have no real personal data
  • If you think "targetting" e-mail advertising at me is acceptable, then rest assured, I think targetting rocket propelled grenades at you is also acceptable.

    And if you think spam is merely an invasion of privacy, then I suggest a few months spent having to wade through a knee high pile of shit to get in and out of your house might explain the problem better. Especially if you are only knee high yourself.

  • Ask them what they are going to do with the data. Why they do need it. Where you can see the information about this data you have given them and they processes.

    Most likely they are unwilling to give you that information. So they want us to give information, yet they do not want us to get any. (Information that is.)
  • >then do what this reader did and put in wrong information under those questions.

    Good grief. As a matter of course you should supply incorrect details to all questions asked my marketers. In the words of the late great Bill Hicks these people are "Satan's little helpers" so no, you do not need to be polite to them. Nor are you obliged to give them ANY accurate information.

    Whenever I get my hands on a questionnaire I fill it in with incorrect information and return it. When I get a marketing call then
  • Fake IT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by a_greer2005 (863926) on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:13AM (#14339582)
    Kroger knows me as Homer Simpson, Marsh (A local Indiana chain) knows me as Peter Griffin...I just fill out some BS, get the card and go, no harm no foul...Radio shack and CircutCity have my phone number as 654-3210

    Fuck them...I am not getting anything for free, so neither will they...

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