flowing motion

Oops! Should have bcc’d that email!

Posted on: March 15, 2009

My first email newsletter  .   .  .

Last weekend, I set up the first email update for the members of Olney100, the community website that we run on the Ning platform for the town of Olney in England.

The broadcast facility in Ning doesn’t allow formatting, so I downloaded the membership list into a CSV file and imported it into my email.  After a hard afternoon designing the newsletter and trying to keep it short, useful and readable in 10 seconds, rather tired, I sent it out.  Oops! I put the group name into CC and not Bcc.

Data transmitted in error

Only one person wrote to complained, and one of course, was sufficient to alert me to the error of my ways.   My apologies.

Interestingly, one of the members also made this mistake this week in his business.  In his case, he had received an inquiry and he replied to everyone on his mailing list.  As it happened, the person making the inquiry was a competitor who was delighted to receive a list of qualified leads and promptly wrote to them all offering his services.

My young friend received a lot more complaints than U – 5% of his list.  His customers are generally younger than mine, and a lot more aware of the norms and law of the internet.

Dealing with data misuse

This is the way he responded.

1  He apologized immediately and unreservedly to his customers.

2  He checked the Data Protection Act and copied and pasted relevant portions into a ‘cease and desist’ notice which he sent to his competitor making it clear that is is an offense to make use of electronic data for purposes other than it was intended.

3  Then he thought some more and recalled that the impersonation of a consumer by a business is also an offense.

Internet laws are much stricter than people realize.  And so they should be.  The rules for driving a car are tighter than the rules for walking on the pavement.

How many dodgy firms will be called to account through internet law?

It strikes me that there may be a parallel between internet law and tax law.

Very few people know that crooks are required to pay tax on their ill-gotten gains and that equally, tax officials are bound over not to report our nefarious dealings to the police or any other authority!

Governments are generally quite zealous about collecting taxes and do inventive things, like audit drivers of flashy cars, the keepers of yachts and persons whose conspicuous consumption exceeds their declared income.   This leads to crooks, like Al Capone, being busted not for crookery, but for tax evasion.

It strikes me that firms who sail close to the line and entice people to purchase their services with false claims might similarly find themselves, not being busted for fraud, but being busted for trying same wide-boy behaviour on the internet.

Gen Y know the rules and will enforce them!

Sharp operators need to watch out.  Gen Y are quite savvy and know the rules!

Have you seen any dodgy activity around electronic data recently?

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