Monday, July 25, 2005

Help! He's chasing the sheep!!

If, like me, you still get bank statements, credit card statements, department store statements, etc. by snail mail then you're familiar with the numerous inserts that come along with them. Magazine offers, perfume offers, "thank you" gifts (for which you "only" have to pay the postage) and more. It takes me but a moment to discard them. I could, I suppose, change to electronic delivery which wouldn't be accompanied by special offers, but it isn't that annoying. Timothy Grayson points us to a column in the Toronto Star (by law professor Michael Geist) which talks about the Canadian Privacy Commissioner's recent finding that inclusion of these marketing materials in a statement to a client/customer constitutes "secondary marketing" and is a privacy breach!

That's right, it's not junk mail, it's a violation of your privacy rights!!

Now banning the inserts simply means the sending institution will have to increase their fees to make up the lost revenue, and they will. But where, oh where is this a privacy issue??

As Grayson concludes:
"I can't stop people from yelling at me, but I can stop listening. I can't stop people from looking at me, but I can draw the blinds. I can't stop people from eavesdropping on my conversations, but I can hold those conversations out of their earshot. It makes little difference if I get more junk mail -- even inside my mail -- because I can ignore it."

Invoking privacy is the identity-equivalent of the nuclear option - can't we save it for those instances where it really is needed, otherwise the risk is that all privacy issues will be ignored. Remember the boy who cried wolf!

I agree. It seems that those who don't like enclosed fliers should not expect to get bank statements.

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