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Love Letters, Hate Mail



Hi Kelly,

Applying the same logic that according to Toysmart's privacy policy, they are not able to sell their customer lists or customer information, what if a company with similar language in their privacy policies were to be acquired? What would the implications be then? This whole thing seems kind of silly because it has absolutely no parallel in the real (aka off-line) world. Companies regularly go out of business or get acquired by other companies and as a result, either sell or give up their customer lists.

I completely understand and agree with the need to include language in privacy policies that assures customers that their information will not be shared with third parties. However, I think that the spirit of such provisions is so that if I sign up with some Web site and provide demographic information and other information such as my e-mail address, that Web site cannot turn around and give my information to some third party to spam me with junk e-mail, etc. I wonder, are credit card companies, who regularly share such information (and in fact much more detailed information) with direct mail companies, catalogue companies etc., held to the same standard as Web site information collectors? (In response to: "Stop, Drop, and Roll")

David B.
Toronto, ON



Dear David,

You hit the nail on the head. There's an implied double standard here when it comes to a government agency focused more on getting its name in the paper than meting out a fair solution.

Privacy seal-of-approval firm TRUSTe deserves just as much blame. The company was obviously looking for a little publicity of its own at the expense of Toysmart, by blowing the whistle on the ongoing customer list sale. What I'd like to know is, who's going to shed a little light on TRUSTe's oft incestuous relationship with its 1000 paying customers? I'd bet if Toysmart's seal-of-approval check to TRUSTe hadn't bounced, the so-called privacy advocate wouldn't have had the Federal Trade Commish on speed dial.

Best,
Kelly
 




Kelly,

After reading your article on Netpliance , I totally agree with you, as with the changes in the equity markets, companies now have to focus on delivering profits instead of just grabbing users.

Thanks for such a review. (In response to: "Netpliance Unveils a Real i-opener")

Michael Q.
Somewhere in cyberspace



Dear Michael,

By the looks of it, things have gone from bad to worse for Netpliance. The Web start-up announced earlier this week that it won't be shipping new orders for its i-opener Internet appliances until October. The news comes hot on the heels of its newly announced price bump from $99 per i-opener unit to $400 apiece.

As if that weren't enough, Larry Ellison just won't let his network appliance dream fade from view. Despite indications of another commercial flop, the Oracle skipper's latest venture, New Internet Computer Co. (NICC) has started selling its own version of the stripped down PC through its Web site for $200 sans monitor.

While the tea leaves don't envisage success for the spin-off, it'll still serve as a most formidable competitor to an already stumbling Netpliance. If Netpliance is genuinely co