Monday, April 07, 2008

iOptOut.ca - will you?

Michael Geist recently launched iOptOut.ca due to his frustrations with Canada's do-not-call-list. The claim is that in it's first week, there have been over 10,000 registrants. 

Basically, you can create your personal do not call list by selecting from a number of organizations ranging from polling companies, airlines, retail, newspapers, political parties, charities, banking,  finance and insurance institutions.

How does it work is best explained in their FAQ:

OptOut contains a database of organizations, all of which are exempted under the current law. When you register with iOptOut you create a personal list of organizations that you wish to opt-out from further marketing. You provide your name, telephone number(s) and email address(es) and we send a message to each organization, on your behalf, asking that they remove you from their active marketing or polling lists.  You could send a message to each organization yourself individually, but there are hundreds and the appropriate contact information is often difficult to obtain.  iOptOut allows you to do this in bulk, opting out of dozens of organizations with a few clicks.

This is an aggressive initiative which will surely get a fair bit of press. There are a few concerns though. For one, organizations listed have no formal agreement with iOptOut.ca, though they are obliged to comply with do-not-call requests by Canadian law.

Oddly enough, the greatest concern is that there is no validation process during registration. This means that the system could potentially be gamed by users registering under different email accounts (i.e. Hotmail) and submit multiple phone numbers that do not belong to an individual.

There probably isn't much risk as the intentions of such gaming of the system only has potential harm to the organizations, but still, one of the primary methods to safe guard against gaming of a system is through a basic verification system - email or other.  I would have thought that a service based on privacy would at least implement this level of safe-guard for credibility.

So I wonder if organizations receiving thousands of do-not-call requests from iOptOut.ca will launch a campaign to question the validity of each request?

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