Privacy thoughts

Because the Ottawa Citizen’s site search is such a disaster, I had difficulty in looking up the article written by Michael Geist that John Gustavson was replying to in his letter to the editor. You’d think that a search for “micheal geist” would yield something other than:

Displaying 0 – 0 of 0 results for “micheal geist” from the Ottawa Citizen

You’d be wrong though. I did eventually find the article, called “Do not think problems will be solved when do-not-call law enacted” without help from the Citizen site’s search.

I read Geist’s article, and re-read Gustavson’s reply, and have trouble understanding how the reply is any reply at all.

Gustovson describes the point of his letter to the editor in his message to me:

I was referring in my letter to the general case where a consumer has not previously withdrawn consent and a marketer can call customers even if they have registered on the DNC.

This is exactly what Geist describes as a weakness of the do-not-call list in the first paragraph of his article, and the reason he created the iOptOut system. Replaying the first paragraph of the article as a reply makes me think Gustavson hopes the remainder of the article will simply go away, or that he stopped reading at the end of the first paragraph.

After I received Gustavson’s reply to me, I was about to ask permission to post his message to me in its entirety. I was surprised to receive a message from another CMA employee requesting that I post Gustavson’s message here. I took this message as the permission I was about to request. Now that I’ve gone back and read Geist’s article, I can’t see why they wanted me to post it badly enough to ask. There’s nothing new in it, and one could even wonder if Gustavson missed the point Geist was trying to make.

Gustavson certainly did not miss the point, however. The CMA site has an area in which Member Bulletins and Briefings are posted to “keep members informed about important industry issues that may affect their businesses.” Reading the bulletins requires a members-only log-in, but until late last week, an abstract of each bulletin was posted with the bulletin titles, plainly visible without logging in. A bulletin posted the week before, titled “Doubts about privately run do-not-call service” now gives no clue as what form these doubts take. Early last week however, the abstract said that although the CMA cannot say so with any legal certainty, they do believe that members can safely ignore PIPEDA notification from customers when send by a privately run opt-out service.

Given that the CMA themselves run an opt-out service, this is an odd position to take. I do understand that the do-not-call list and Geist’s iOptOut will adversely affect the way their members do business. I would think the enthusiasm shown for these services would perhaps enlighten them about how strongly the public dislike telemarketing calls.

What I can promise is my delivering a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, should I be contacted by an organization I’ve directed to not contact me using iOptOut.

Let’s not even get into the logic behind an organization proving they are happy to ignore my plainly stated wishes as a prelude to trying to sell me something.

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