Letter: Since When Is 'No Thanks, I'm Not Interested' an Infringement of Free Speech?

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Regarding Tad Clarke's editorial ("Without Information, There Is No Information Age," May 2) and the recent dust-up over ChoicePoint, et al., a primary missing ingredient in the information business is the total absence of a "feedback loop." The consumer's feedback is fundamentally excluded from the data collection process.

From my perspective as a consumer, the industry has been entirely uncontrolled for so long that it actually believes any attempt from a - gag, choke, cough! - consumer to express THEIR preferences is a restriction of the constitutional rights of free speech of industry.

Since when is "No thanks, I'm not interested" an infringement of free speech?

What am I to think when I get my credit reports and find that: (1) they list me as having lived at a wrong address, and (2) the last employment they list is 25-plus years ago. The worst part is I know where the wrong address came from, and there is no legitimate reason for a credit bureau to have picked up such data.

Another good one (since corrected) was jumbling my ZIP code. Three years after a ZIP code change, two of the credit agencies couldn't figure out which ZIP code I lived in, so they reported both.

When I can easily see such mistakes/sloppy reporting, as a data professional I worry about the information that I can't see.

Do a little experiment: Ask random people on the street two questions:

1. Have you heard of the Direct Marketing Association?

2. Have you heard of (or used) the DMA's Mail Preference System?

My experience is that maybe 1 in 10 knows who/what the DMA is. And maybe 1 in 10 of those (we're down to 1 percent now) is aware of the MPS.

A common response to the natural third question ("Do you get too much unwanted mail?") is "No ... I just throw it away." Think about that.

David Eddy, Babson Park, MA



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