March 18, 2005

The Latest Evil

I’ve noticed a trend for online address books, such as those offered by Plaxo or Bebo. I consider these things to be the devil.
For example, take Bebo’s Privacy Policy page, and scroll down to the section entitled “Acquisition”…

It is possible that as we continue to develop our website and our business, Bebo’s service and/or related assets might be acquired. Notwithstanding any provision in this policy to the contrary, in event of a merger or acquisition, your personal information may be transferred to the acquiring entity, and become subject to the acquirer’s data practices.

Do you know what this means? No? Well, I do, and I shall tell you. It means:
“If we go out of business, we will probably be bought by a spammer, who is only interested in our magnificent database of email addresses.”
Devil, I tell you.


6 thoughts on “The Latest Evil

  1. Annoying as they do offer a valuable service. I don’t use it of course because I think their implementations are shoddy and I don’t trust them.
    However the idea of a way of changing your own contact details, and having it update everyone who has you as a contact, is something useful.

  2. Hate to tell you this, Pete, but you’ll find a similar clause in pretty much any contract which you undertake with any service provider – BT and the gas man included. Even my contracts include that clause. I guess it comes down to whether or not you want to use the service and whether you want to take the risk with your personal data. Personally, I use Plaxo and find it reasonably useful.

  3. Pete – I’m the Privacy Officer here at Plaxo. I can’t speak for any other servics, but I can tell you how Plaxo operates.
    It appears that you only may have checked out Bebo’s privacy policy. I think if you took a look at Plaxo’s privacy practices, you would find we have been praised for having one the most consumer-protective and strictest privacy policies in the industry.
    Specifically, our privacy practices are summed up by our Plaxo Privacy Principles, shown as the first thing someone sees when reading our Privacy Policy:
    – Your Information is your own and you decide who will have access to it.
    – You maintain ownership rights to Your Information, even if there is a business transition or policy change.
    – You may add, delete, or modify Your Information at any time.
    – Plaxo will not update or modify Your Information without your permission.
    – Plaxo will not sell, exchange, or otherwise share Your Information with third parties, unless required by law or in accordance with your instructions.
    – Plaxo does not send spam, maintain spam mailing lists, or support the activities of spammers.
    You can also find a comparison of Plaxo’s privacy practices against other popular Internet services on our web site.
    But despite promises made within a privacy policy, most people are still skeptical because they believe privacy policies are meaningless should the company go out of business. This could not be further from the truth, and I wrote about this on our own own blog last year. I invite you to check it out.
    The truth is: For US-based companies such as Plaxo, Privacy Policies are binding legal agreements that stay with the information it was collected with.
    I hope this helps. If there is anything else that concerns you regarding Plaxo, please let me know.
    Stacy Martin
    Plaxo Privacy Officer
    privacy @t

  4. I’ve done a bit of Googling, and I’m definitely not the only person with this anti-Plaxo sentiment. And on pretty much all occasions, Stacy picks it up in her referral logs within a few hours, and responds with something very similar to the above.
    I wonder how she manages to get it all done. Or, perhaps, and here’s a conspiracy theory, there are a million people at Plaxo who all pretend to be Stacy. Maybe they are even clones. Dressed in white plastic.
    I should add a 😉 to make it perfectly clear that the above was a joke.

    Pete on March 19, 2005

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