Abusing your database without their knowledge

In the Washington Post business section today, there was a story about how people are complaining to the FCC about their e-mail address being inproperly used in support opposition of the XM-Sirius satellite radio merger. These supposed e-mails were delivered to members of Congress and now the consumer database is pretty pissed.

Frankly, this is a really bad way. Sure, there’s a reason why you’ve asked your consumers for their e-mail address and other relevant information, but to use it in a deceptive manner is totally dishonest and truly hurts your credibility. Does this affect the whole “double opt-in” concept and violate CAN-SPAM? I don’t think it violates CAN-SPAM, but the whole opt-in process seems to have just gone out the window. A while back, I read an article online about being authentic and this is a major faux pas.

Showing that you care about your customers helps to build that rapport and when you violate their trust by not only using their e-mail information, but forging an e-mail that was supposedly penned by them, then you are really ruining your credibility in the eyes of the public. Nothing in your terms of use should allow you to abuse their trust and information. Yes, there are possibilities of having your e-mail sold, but frankly, doesn’t that amount to either spamming or opting in? Was this a situation where Sirius and XM couldn’t find a few dozen people from their enormous subscription list that would be willing to support this venture that they had to resign themselves to forging these e-mails? Their collective subscription ranges in the millions and you’re telling me that they can’t find several hundred or thousand people in support of their merger? Think about this, if their subscribers don’t want to offer their support, maybe the merger shouldn’t happen…

For a company to try their hardest to try and block this merger, their deceptive practices have really gone and ruined their chances.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."