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World Privacy Forum's Top Ten Opt-Outs 162

Ant writes in to mention the World Privacy Forum's top ten information collector/user list, which shows opt-out instructions (or at least a starting point): "As privacy experts, we are frequently asked about 'opting out,' and which opt outs we think are the most important. This list is a distillation of ideas for opting out that the World Privacy Forum has developed over the years from responding to those questions. ... Many people have told us that they think opting out is confusing. We agree. Opting out can range from the not-too-difficult (the FTC's Do Not Call list is a fairly simple opt out) to the challenging (the National Advertising Initiative (NAI) opt out can be tricky). Our hope is that this list will clarify which opt out does what, and how to go about opting out. In this list, some opt outs can be done by phone, some have to be sent in a letter via postal mail, and some can be accomplished online. Some opt outs last forever, some have time limits, and others can be changed at will. If an opt out is on this list, it is because we thought it might be important enough to be worth whatever annoyance it may pose. "
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World Privacy Forum's Top Ten Opt-Outs

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  • The Wrong Approach (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:56PM (#27725911) Homepage

    How about making everything in the world an opt-in by default?

    For example, I don't recall announcing that I want telemarketers to call me, so why should I have to opt-out?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:01PM (#27725933)

      well that's simple, it's because the telemarketers automatically opt-in'd you into their call 24/7 list.

    • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:11AM (#27726307)

      Using opt-in saves you the cost of marketing to people who don't want your stuff, saves you the cost of storing data about them, and saves you from the negative word-of-mouth opt-out causes.

      I've run opt-in marketing campaigns, and have converted multiple employers from opt-out to opt-in. Before the switch, every mailout would result in an inbox full of complaints and threats. After the switch to opt-in, people would actually mail us asking where the ads were, if we were late.

      I'll take opt-in over opt-out any day.

      • I agree. As both a list manager for e-mail and phone lists we have the opinion that we don't want to waste time with the people who don't want to hear from us.

        On the calling side; we love the FDNC list. It means we don't have to spend man hours dialing people who will just scream and holler (when all it takes is a simple 'take us off your list'). As far as e-mail goes; we sent out opt-in emails to 20,000 folks in our market area and 95% of them opt'ed in. People respect that you asked first and if you tell them there might be interesting content coming their way they watch for it.

        • And before you reply saying that asking to be taken off a calling list doesn't work - realize you've dealt with fly-by-nights or otherwise shady ventures before. We are quick to blacklist anyone who is nasty or otherwise shows no interest, it just doesn't pay to keep calling.

          Spam is spam, but believe it or not... most people WANT to be marketed to. Don't believe me? Purchase some Experian demo data and look at the 'multi-company mail responders'. In our geographical market most of the households do in fact reply to junk mail and so forth.

          (And you'll never beat junk mail - it makes the USPS too much money. You can opt-out of 'junk mail', but you have to wait in line to do it. It's just too much postage for the USPS to turn down.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nursie ( 632944 )

            As far as I'm concerned, the moment you call my private number to try and sell me something, you ARE a fly-by-night or otherwise shady venture.

            "most people WANT to be marketed to. Don't believe me? Purchase some Experian demo data"

            Nice try, now I know who you work for... lol. But no, I don't believe you, I believe a lot of people miss that little box in the small print marked "no, I don't want your junk for ever more".

          • by jonwil ( 467024 )

            You must have some funny rules in the postal system over there, here in Australia, we get catalogs and junk (from everyone from supermarkets to pizza shops to to real estate agents) in our mailboxes delivered by people directly without going through the post office at all.
            We also get various free weekly local papers in the same way.

      • by Jurily ( 900488 )

        and saves you from the negative word-of-mouth opt-out causes.

        If everyone else does it as well, there is no negative fallout like that. Any opt-in thing gets a huge bonus, though, just by virtue of being different.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The problem (from the advertiser's point of view) with opt-in is that people have to know about your product and be interested in it before they ask for those ads. Most marketing is trying to make you buy shit you don't need and didn't know you even wanted.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        The difference between opt-out and opt-in is product quality. Opt-in works fine when you are a reasonable company with reasonable products, however when you are a crap corporation with crap products and a bad reputation, nobody wants to opt-in, which is why they pay lobbyist to allow opt-out to remain legal rather than politicians banning all unsolicited communications.

        Simple legislation, if you receive unsolicited communications and you complain to an legislated department they fine the advertiser and y

      • This reminds me of the car recall formula from Fight Club (If the defect rate * the average out of court settlement amount is less than the cost of a recall, don't do a recall).

        For some media (e-mail especially), the cost of implementing a legitimate opt-in campaign is probably higher than the cost of blasting anyone and everyone with advertising materials. The cost of implementing an opt-out option is probably negated by the additional profit you get from the small percentage of people who wouldn't hav
      • Using opt-in saves you the cost of marketing to people who don't want your stuff

        Those are EXACTLY the people marketers want to reach. The others already want your stuff, there is no point in harassing them, what marketers want is to change your mind, they want those who have no interest in the product to BECOME interested.
        Those already interested will expend their own energy to find the product.

        That's how my old boss explained it to me.

    • 1. Get your name added to an opt-out list, such as the Do not Call list.
      2. Unscrupulous individual obtains opt-out list with your contact info and sells it to Nigerian spammers or other foreign group.
      3. You wind up getting more BS than your friend who didn't sign up for that opt-out list.

      Precisely this happened with Canada's do not call registry. I didn't have my name added to it, thankfully. However, in today's information market, opt-out lists would have to be highly secure to have even a remote c
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

      That would be way too easy, now wouldn't it?

      On the other hand, the question might arise where to draw the line.

      In Switzerland, as an example, you can put a sticker on your mailbox that you do not want to receive ads. Technically, people are required by law to honour that wish. Of course, depending where you are, they couldn't care less.

      Now political propaganda, on the other hand, has been deemed important enough to warrant exemption from that rule. The post office is required to deliver those to ALL mailbox

    • sidewalks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by reiisi ( 1211052 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:29AM (#27726883) Homepage

      Part of me wants to agree with you.

      But another part of me tells me making opt-in the defualt by laws with teeth in them is not going to be a good thing.

      Think about your sidewalk. It's there for a purpose.

      Block off your sidewalk with a 3 meter wall and a moat full of crocodiles and you get no solicitors. But the firemen and the EMTs also have a problem getting in when you're home alone, passed out, with the house burning down around you.

      The problem is that no-call lists are not No-solicitors signs. They're more like attractive nuisances. Train wrecks in progress.

      No-solicitors signs can't be enforced on people who are not from your country until the Internet starts having laws, and we don't want the Internet to have laws.

      Which means the ultimate solution is a stratified (balkanized) Internet, and we don't want that, either.

      At least, we don't want stratification until the ISPs get their hands out of the cookie jar so that every home, family, and/or user gets a full domain name and the ISPs either provide mail service to that domain or provide the hooks for the domain owner (not renter) to run his or her own server.

      And before that, we need better standard OSses. (That means we have to get Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle out of the way. IBM, too, since getting the others out of the way would leave them with no real competitors. Sun being bought by Oracle worries me.)

      And we need better standards for e-mail, file sharing, web-site publishing, etc., standards that transparently support simple forms of encryption. Not perfect encryption, but good enough to eliminate casual eavesdropping just by putting an pwn3d bot's interface in promiscuous mode.

      That's a lot of work, and we're hiding from it.

      Until then, RFC 5233 addresses can help a lot, if used wisely.

      How to use the RFC 5233 addresses wisely?

      First, assume that your base address will soon be harvested. Thus, your base address of user@isp.example is essentially an alias for user+spam@isp.example . Pre-filter it that way.

      Second, set up a suffix for bulk purposes, such as user+bulk_nnnnn@isp.example . "bulk" is okay, but you might prefer something a little more original to yourself, like "klub", or "hanbai". The serial number could also come before or in the middle, like bunnnnnlk, and you might want to use pseudo-random serial numbers instead of just cycling through from bu00000lk to bu99999lk.

      Hmm. bu23645lk would be harder to filter than bulk23645 with the simple non-RE filters that are most common.

      Third, set up suffixes for mail lists. user+list_nnnnn@isp.example or user+listname@isp@example .

      By setting up suffixes, I mean that you outline a system of filter rules.

      Fourth through n-1-th, plan out the patterns you'll use for friends, family, church, school, club (hmm. klub. woops.), etc.

      All these can be white-list controlled, because you have an idea who and where mail addressed that way should be coming from. Two or three sets of filters for each system, one that white-lists known senders, one that diverts unknown senders to a "probably-junk" folder, and maybe one that (temporarily or permanently) black-holes known offender senders who have latched onto that group of suffixes.

      Finally, you have a set of doorbell or knock addresses that you give out at business meetings and other parties: ackr_nnnnn@isp.example . (At this point, I assume that the use of the knock address is obvious?)

      Now, I'm going to polish that up a bit and publish it on my blog.

      Of course, with a little time, you can actually set up a domain of your own for cheap with a little help from a place like and a place like (Google will run your mail server for you if you have a web server and a domain name pointed to it. Of course, there's that thing about letting Google spool your mail, but it is possible.)

    • I just killed all of my land lines and all of the phone spam went away and I saved cash (bonus!). I'm not sure why cell phones seems to be exempt from this, but it's a simple step that most of the younger crowd could easily do to avoid it if they haven't already.
      • the thing with cell phones is one of the clauses of 47cfr64.1200 makes it illegal for somebody to telemarket to a cell phone (widely ignored by the scummier set but....)

        oh and no there has not been any change in the law to allow this since 47cfr64.1200 has not been changed
        (me i would just put my cell on the DNC list)

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:57PM (#27725917)

    Face it, the types of emails that you want to opt out from are exactly the ones that do not honor opt-out lists.

    Remember when you first tried to ride a bike and your dad pushed you so hard that you fell over and skinned your knees and bloodied your nose? This is like taking that swing at him that you always wanted to. Unfortunately at that age, no matter what you do, he wasn't ever affected by your little attacks and rants.

    • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:12PM (#27725977)

      No, I don't. Mainly because my dad wasn't an asshole.

    • by cypherwise ( 650128 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:46PM (#27726151) Journal

      Remember when you first tried to ride a bike and your dad pushed you so hard that you fell over and skinned your knees and bloodied your nose?

      At least you live up to your name...

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Same goes for the Australian "Do Not Call" list. Religious groups, charities and politicians are exempt. At least a telemarketer might have usefull information on a new product.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joce640k ( 829181 )

        "a telemarketer might have usefull information on a new product."

        Huh? Telemarketers never have good products. Telemarketers only ever sell products that need to be sold via "the numbers game" (ie. You throw enough mud at a wall and some of it will stick).

        The simple answer is to get yourself a domain, then when "bigcorp" asks you for an email address you tell them "". That makes it real easy to see who's abusing and who to block.

        As for a phone...get caller ID. If it's not a number you r

        • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

          What if they hide their number from caller id?

          Also it's not as simple as simply not answering because they have still disturbed me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Imagix ( 695350 )
            SIP/Asterisk gets pretty cool for this. You could have your asterisk box route all hidden caller id calls directly to voicemail. Or to an IVR menu which asks for a password (and if that fails, voicemail). Continuing with this, "bad" caller id numbers can be immediately dropped, "good" caller id passes through unchanged.
          • Same thing - no number, no answer.

            • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

              Ignoring the problem doesn't fix it. Just as filtering spam even at 100% does not fix the problem. Also many legitimate phone calls are made with out an ID, so those would also be ignored.

              The point is these calls should not be allowed in the first place.

              • What legitimate calls are made without an ID?

                It's not as if the mystery person wouldn't be revealed if you picked up the handset...

          • I find your lack of caller ID disturbing.

          • then you read off the anti telemarketer script and add the "no caller id felony" to the list of crimes you submit to the feds fun fact did you know that they are required to give you

            1 their name
            2 the business they are calling on behalf of
            3 a contact number (can't be out of country or a special charges line)

            and if you tell them to put you on their do not call list they must honor that request
            (and if you get the wording right that DNC "request" goes for any campaign that company runs)

            oh and you can record any

    • I can't say that I've had that particular experience.

      Are you sure you didn't want to hit your Dad for sleeping with your Mum?

  • How do I opt-out of opt-out lists?
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:02PM (#27725937) Homepage

    The disrespect that advertisers pay to their targets works well for them as it is believed that it boosts their viewership and of course the viewers who are most likely to buy and spend are unaware of or don't care that they are being disrespected.

    I have little doubt that if people could get sales by knocking on your door and punching you in the face to make a sale, they would do exactly that. They don't care about the harm they cause.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      If consumers where smart individuals marketers would not exist.

      • If human beings weren't human ... wait. Nevermind.

      • If consumers where smart individuals marketers would not exist.

        So because many consumers are idiots, that makes it okay for marketers to annoy us all? As a matter of fact, what does intelligence have to do with any of it? Marketers work half by the power of suggestion, smart people are influenced just like us morons.

        • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

          So because many consumers are idiots, that makes it okay for marketers to annoy us all?

          I never said that.

      • by gd2shoe ( 747932 )
        If consumers "were" smarter, marketers would be less annoying.
    • I have little doubt that if people could get sales by knocking on your door and punching you in the face to make a sale, they would do exactly that. They don't care about the harm they cause.

      Don't give the MAFIAA any more ideas! They already sue their customers; punching their customers in the face would be less harsh.

    • I have little doubt that if people could get sales by knocking on your door and punching you in the face to make a sale, they would do exactly that. They don't care about the harm they cause.

      I'd ask a doctor how I can punch people in the face in a way that limits the expected damages as much as possible.

      See, I'm an ethical douchebag ;-)

  • World? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:10PM (#27725969)

    For something from the World Privacy Forum it didn't really give much info for people that don't live in the US.

    • paved the way by the World Series , I believe.

    • For something from the World Privacy Forum it didn't really give much info for people that don't live in the US.

      My thoughts exactly. In all fairness, their menu has an item "About US" though.

      Come to think of it, now I understand how Bush talked about himself as the leader of the free world

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      There are people who don't live in the U.S.???

      Clearly these people have no privacy concerns; the fact no-one's heard of them provides plenty of privacy.

    • Here are a couple of good opt-outs for the UK:

      Telephone Preference Service - no more junk phone calls. []

      Mail preference service - no more junk mail (snailmail). []

      Anyone got any more?

      • (ok non-UK readers should probably stop here though in the spirit of slashdot I should assume everybody in the world lives in my country ;-) )

        I've signed up for the Telephone Preference Service - but still get junk calls from overseas telemarketing: anybody know how to get rid of them?

        Also I've noticed that telephone numbers get handed on by BT to other people. Not sure how to get round that one. I moved into a house a year ago and the number I was given was changed from the previous owners number to a new

        • When I recently moved locally, I took my (BT) number with me - to my new house, which only has cable. I'm also now ex-directory.

          I still get phone calls from telemarketers who think I live at my old address, who try to sell me stuff. I also get calls from people who try to get me to move from BT to a cheaper service. They seem nonplussed when I tell them I'm not with BT.

          Yes, I'm registered with the TPS, it seems to make little difference.

        • by igb ( 28052 )
          I've had the same phone number for twenty-three years, but it's been ex-directory for the last twenty years. It's ex-directory, although I suspect that unlisted, where it is available for directory enquiries but not published, is as effective given that DQ costs 50p a shot. It's been TPS since the inception of the scheme. I doubt we get more than one marketing call per year.
  • by sonamchauhan ( 587356 ) <sonamc@gmail.3.14159com minus pi> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:15PM (#27725989) Journal

    There's only one true opt-out... and it's at the receiver's end.

    This is really possible only if I created a unique, unguessable email address each time I gave my email out.

    This is not as impossible as you think. For instance, Gmail supports the "+arbitrary_tag" convention. So email sent to:
      -- all shows up in the Gmail inbox of ''.

    If you started getting spam at one of the '', you can guess who gave your address out.

    See: []

    Note, Gmail's convention leaves out the 'unguessable' bit of this idea out - so spammers can easily build rules to harvest real addresses from gmail addresses containing a '+' sign.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I always append the name of the domain to which I am submitting information. For example, an email address submitted to would be of the form:

      I then set up an alias on my mail server to accept such emails. Interestingly, I have never received SPAM from any address submitted. All my SPAM comes from people who scrape the whois database entry associated with my domain name.

      The whois thing is backed up by my wife who used to never receive spam. Then she bought a d

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      So what good does it do you to know who sold your address? The horse is out of the barn by the time you start getting spam. They've already sold your address. You were planning to call them up and have them un-ring the bell?

      Plus addressing is trivial to evade (as you correctly pointed out). You still get all the spam.
      Besides, I find Gmail pretty good at filtering spam without all that plus addressing nonsense.

      What is needed is "one-time addresses", or addresses that cease to exist after n messages arrive

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You were planning to call them up

        Very likely. They sold my address, so it's quite possible they owe me something for that. I'm also likely to avoid doing business with them in the future.

        You still get all the spam.

        That's only with Gmail, and only if they've specifically targeted Gmail.

        What is needed is "one-time addresses", or addresses that cease to exist after n messages arrive, where n is some low number suitable for you verification email to be mailed and maybe a couple more.

        This should be trivial to write, if you really want it.

        But I don't think that's a good solution. Why not just tag email sent to that address, and wait until it starts getting spammed? That way, you know who's likely to sell your address, and you have a bunch more spam to train a statis

      • by reiisi ( 1211052 )

        Until we can get the ISPs to give each user a domain name for something reasonable (like, free, within the ISP's domain(s), per places like, this helps.

        Besides, the horse is already out of the barn. This gives you a little more fine-grained control in your white-list filters.

      • by gsslay ( 807818 )

        So what good does it do you to know who sold your address? The horse is out of the barn by the time you start getting spam. They've already sold your address. You were planning to call them up and have them un-ring the bell?

        Good point. I use a similar method when subscribing to some websites. I have an address I know for a fact I only provided to a single website, run by a well-known international company. It has never been used for any other reason, yet now I get pharmacy spam and phishing on it. I don't believe spam found it by accident, it would be too much of a coincidence.

        But short of taking said international company to court, what am I gonna do?

      • > So what good does it do you to know who sold your address?
        Yes, you can have a chat with them
        More usefully, you can automatically redirect all email from them (and the people they sold the compromised address to) to trash.

        > Plus addressing is trivial to evade (as you correctly pointed out). You still get all the spam.
        I thought so too, but see excellent idea by user reiisi -- []

        Essentially, redirect all non-tagged emails (sent to 'example@gmail

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Because no spammer would ever know this trick! can you guess my gmail address?

      • In theory, you can filter out mail to such addresses when you create them, or expire them very quickly to control the sharing of the spammable addresses. In practice, botnets seem quite likely to flood the potential address spaces and find your clever little tweaks. And the mail logs of large domains will also be very valuable to spammers to contact exactly such short-term addresses.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

          I was actually pointing out a flaw in the system. It seems to me the only real solution is to just have good filtering systems in place.

          Another way is to have a catch-all domain and when you register use addresses like, which you can then block as needed. However this quickly becomes a nightmare when somebody runs a dictionary attack on your domain, so you disable catch-all then you can't remember what addresses are actually in use ect and it turns to shit.

          Spam f

      • by reiisi ( 1211052 )

        You assume the spammers know the trick.

        And arrange your filters on your address appropriately.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gringer ( 252588 )

      Have a look at []. That page explains it better than I can, but I'll try to give a quick summary.

      In 'simple' mode, you have a username at spamgourmet which is assigned to a particular external address. Each time you sign up for a new thing, you create a custom address which indicates how many emails you wish to receive, e.g. You will never see any more email sent to that address beyond that limit (an advanced customisation is available to reset the counter).

    • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

      Works for me with Every address I give out has a maximum of 5 mails to be handled by senders not white-listed.

      I've given my address, in this way, to porn sites and to this day I receive one spam mail per half a year on average.

      Which reminds me: Don't open an account on They sell addresses ;).

    • by shabble ( 90296 )

      For instance, Gmail supports the "+arbitrary_tag" convention. So email sent to:

      -- all shows up in the Gmail inbox of ''.

      That, also, only works for companies that accept a + sign in the local part. Amex, for example, don't. As do(n't) a wide variety of regex's that people swipe off the net to use in their websites.

  • by eggman9713 ( 714915 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:35PM (#27726091)
    I used to get catalogs from a marketing company despite opting out via, as they were a member of the Direct Marketing Association.
    I would get at least 2 catalogs a week from these people despite letters and phone calls asking them to stop. Well, After that didn't work, I collected all the catalogs over a 3 month period, stuffed them in a large envelope and sent them back to the company postage due. I never received another catalog from them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oblig. []

    • Another way is to register a company that performs "Marketing Quality Control Services". Send them a letter thanking them for using your service and informing them that by sending marketing material to your address they agreeing to your terms of service and rates.

      Next time the catalog comes in, send them an honest opinion of the marketing material along with a bill for $1,000. Repeat for each catalog, adding a $500 late fee for everytime a bill is not paid before the 1st of the month billing cycle.

      They will

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      In the UK you can sign up for the Mail Preference Service ( which actually does seem to work. It won't prevent all spam coming through your letter box but it definitely cuts it down a lot.

      Another trick I found to avoid marketing phone calls is to ask the caller to prove their identity. My bank used to call me at least once a week but stopped pretty quickly once I started asking them to prove their identity before I was willing to talk to them. The callers seemed quite surpr

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:40PM (#27726123)

    An easy solution for me is to change my phone number often. Problem solved.

  • Most of that seems pretty specific to US to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Shhhh, don't tell them there's more to the world. They might want to visit us.

      • I wouldn't worry about it. They can't even get to Alaska without a boat!
      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        Even worse, I'm not in the US, but I still get plenty of spam from them, and no way to opt out (pointless, thogh it is) or sue the assholes.
  • What annoys me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by British ( 51765 ) <> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:49PM (#27726175) Homepage Journal

    ...are websites when you register have the "subscribe me to your stupid newsletter" option checked by default. Get something wrong on the reg form? We'll re-populate all the info, but we'll re-check the subscribe option, despite you unchecking it. Assholes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MadKeithV ( 102058 )
      Also happens: having that checkbox option just slightly off the bottom of the page so you won't see it unless you scroll.
      Of course, the "accept" button IS visible already on the page.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:57PM (#27726227)

    Most schools interpret/implement FERPA-related opt-outs in such a way that if a student's information is restricted, teachers are not allowed to post that student's photo on the web, or in the yearbook, or in the school newspaper, etc.

    In the school district I work for, we are not allowed to take a child's picture if they have opted out. That means that, at every event I go take photos at, I have to find 'homeroom' teachers for each student and verify whether any students have opted out, then take photos around them. Before I post pictures, I have to verify again. Before I give those photos to the teachers and students for their own use and enjoyment, I have to remove photos of those students.

    Privacy is good, privacy is important. I think FERPA-type rules are very important because I've seen various employers do some horrible things with employee and customer data without realizing the problem. Implementations at the school level definitely need to be improved -- I'm tired of seeing how bad kids feel about being the only person in their class not in pictures.

    The solution is easy: allow parents to opt-out of sharing textual directory information with anyone outside the district, but still allow student participation in district activities, teacher web postings on official sites, and district photography.

    If your school or your child's school only provides all or nothing opt-out, you need to spend 30 minutes one night and go voice your opinion to the school board at a school board meeting. The board should appreciate your input and it's the only way to really be heard -- contacting anyone else and your question will just get buried by someone who doesn't want to do the extra work to make it happen. (read: my boss)

  • Reality Check (Score:5, Interesting)

    by db32 ( 862117 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:55AM (#27726481) Journal
    Opt out of everything! Encrypt everything! Privacy is supreme! Oh wait...except you make yourself a bit of a target by being part of that tiny percent that actually gives a shit about that kind of stuff. I agree that privacy is important. I agree that some things should not be so easily made public information. I agree that advertising is irritating as hell. However, making yourself relatively unique by fighting so hard to stay "under the radar" actually makes you stand out as one of the few that actually are totally concerned about it. The unfortunate reality is MANY people believe "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear" and the "they" rely on that behavior to find the "suspect" people.

    Let us break this down in a way that I suspect all "geeks" and whatnot can understand. Do you spend much time investigating the events/items that meet your expectations of "normal"? Or are you more interested in the "odd" result? How much time do you really dedicate to fixing a Windows glitch vs how many time you just write it off to "Yeah, typical Windows behavior". Compare that to how many times you investigate into a *nix type glitch where the norm is to behave in exactly the same fashion every time unless some odd and relatively easily discoverable condition occurs...

    The very act of struggling so hard to make yourself completely anonymous and "off the radar" makes you a high visibility target. I often see people go on about how they refuse to use discount cards and so on... WHY?! your hot dog and milk buying patterns so fucking important to your privacy? If you are really buying something "suspect" or "interesting" then don't use the card. Fuck, I actively check costs and ingredients in shit because I am concerned about what I am paying and what I am eating. What better way to "vote with your dollar" then to send a nice "I am not buying this fucking garbage" message every time you check out? I don't buy shit with aspertame, I don't buy shit with partially hydroginated bullshit (did you know they can legally claim 0 trans fat by making it less than .5g per serving? Who the fuck eats 1 cookie as a serving? Eat 2 cookies and you get ~1g of trans fat...5g of which per week increases your heart attack risk by ~25%). I am more than happy to provide that information to the marketeers because I want them to know I don't want that bullshit in my cupboards! How else do you plan to send a strong message with your dollar? Make sure they pay attention to your dollar!

    Put yourself in "their" shoes. Who stands out more...the guy trying to mind his own business in the large crowd of other people who are generally just trying to mind their own business or the guy who is sneaking with sticks strapped on all over trying to look like a shrub. "They" employ a great number of very intelligent people more interested in solving puzzles than being "bad guys" to weed out those strange responses. It is an interesting challenge in human behavior.

    Seriously...hiding every aspect of your life makes you more suspect. I think the notion of making every aspect of your life public voluntarily through myspace/facebook/twitter/whatever is absolutely moronic in the extreme, but trying to hide every aspect is the same thing. Unless you are looking for pedophilia, necrophilia, beastiality, or some other pretty universally questionable probably stand out more as "I don't ever look at porn" rather than "I like *XYZ* kind of porn".

    The biggest violators of "privacy" are in it to make money, not to be evil dictators. They are going to dig into your information whether you like it or not. Provide them information that sends a clear message of what you want and they will most certainly meet your demands to continue making money! Every time some telemarketer calls me with some survey I am HAPPY to spend 5-10 minutes of my day answering their questions. You cannot even begin to imagine my amusement when they start asking about how much TV I
    • You raise some points, but I think your logic off a little with regards to the "club cards" angle. Sure, if Big Brother is looking for his next victim, yes, being "not normal" is a red flag. But if it's just Safeway that has your grocery data, they're interested in turning a profit, not having fun analyzing a puzzle.... they want a promotional deal that 13% of their customers will care about, instead of a promotion that 0.000013% of their customers will care about. You're not worth the effort to analyze in
    • Provide them information that sends a clear message of what you want and they will most certainly meet your demands to continue making money!

      I want them to leave me the fuck alone and respect my privacy, regardless of a "prior business relationship". There's no marketing info they can be given that shows that to them better than nothing at all.

    • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

      I often see people go on about how they refuse to use discount cards and so on... WHY?!

      I used to have club cards for the main supermarkets in the UK, but all the vouchers I got from them were trying to get me to try stuff I didn't buy. Why bother with a discount card if you don't get discounts out of it?

      What better way to "vote with your dollar" then to send a nice "I am not buying this fucking garbage" message every time you check out?

      What on Earth makes you think that using a club card sends a stronger message than simply not buying the stuff in the first place?

      I'm rather puzzled by your suggestion that not using club cards makes you stand out, too. If I don't use a club card they don't know who I am, so what does it matte

      • by db32 ( 862117 )
        1. The cards around here typically don't send you anything. They are just a little "price with card vs price without card" kinda shopping thing. They are typically more like universal coupon things.
        2. Feel free to stop buying food. You need to buy quite a bit of stuff for day to day use and it isn't really an option of buy it/don't buy it. Now, you could not shop at that store, but why not save a few cents and tell the retailer what products you want on the shelf.
        3. I don't think not using a card m
  • The rest of the world doesn't want to have your privacy issues, U.S. - can you keep it national please? After all, the list is National List this, and National Register that...


  • If we all just stop buying things maybe they will leave us alone. Aggressive advertisers isn't a problem in a communist society, we should dump this capitalism stuff for that reason alone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a supposedly worldwide organisation they're suspiciously specific to a single "country".

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein