E-mail appending erodes privacy

Friday, 24 May 2002, 12:15 PM EST

"Psssst! Hey buddy, check dis out ova hea. If ya give me yer database of customas' offline info, I'll give you e-mail addresses to match! Whaddaya say, pal? US$2 per name, awright?"

That is how it might go down in a dark alley in privacy advocates' nightmares, but the reality is that the e-mail appending industry uses bright, chirpy banter and photos of clean-cut staffers to tell its story.

E-mail appending is big business. Here's how it works. A multinational corporation wants to send an e-mail campaign to its database of offline customers. For example, this database might include customers who purchased a printer from the corporation, filled out a warranty card and mailed it in.

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