Our assurance of online privacy seems to become more important to us as the Internet evolves, but at the same time, it seems that our privacy is eroding due to e-mail addresses being sold to spammers.
Recent Yahoo privacy changes has caused one South Sound technology journalist to discontinue his popular Yahoo!Groups e-mail newsletters.
Q: Your two e-mail newsletters Byte Me and Just Enough Strategy have been very popular for many years. What prompted you to discontinue them last month?
Catalano: Well, a little bit of background first. Ive been doing e-mail newsletters continuously for eight years now.
I had switched over to a service called eGroups to handle maintaining the mailing of the newsletters. Its a list service that allows people to subscribe and unsubscribe on their own without my direct intervention. eGroups was acquired by Yahoo! about two and a half years ago. They turned it into Yahoo! Groups.
Now on the surface that would seem like a good thing because it provides financial stability for the eGroups function. It provides a lot more resources for people who were members of this group.
How the e-mail list works is you basically subscribe with your e-mail address. Youre not really a member of the server that’s hosting it. Youre a member of the list.
A lot of my newsletter subscribers subscribed only by e-mail directly to me. They never became members of Yahoo!. They never went to Yahoos Web site and signed up for it.
So bottom line is they basically said, Hire an attorney to try and figure out what we’re trying to tell you.
Q: Yahoo! is a member of the Trustee organization, so youd think they’d be under some tight regulations.
Trustee is based on disclosure, not restriction. So if any company wants to say, Yes, we get your e-mail address and sell it to every spammer in the universe, Trustee would be OK with that because thats disclosure.
Part of the problem with anybody that subscribes to Yahoo! Groups by e-mail only and never becomes a member of Yahoo! is that Yahoo! Groups is a gray area.
Q: The big question is will Yahoo! really violate all those peoples trust?
Catalano: It would be a bad business move on their part. The thing is, I have promised my subscribers that I will never sell, share or rent their private information and I now cant trust Yahoo! not to do that, so I shut down my lists until I find another place to host them.
Frank Catalano can be reached via his Web site at www.catalanoconsulting.com. The full audio interview with Frank Catalano can be heard Saturday at 11am on KLAY 1180 AM or anytime at www.webtalkguys.com.
Dana Greenlee is a Web designer and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based talk show featuring technology news and interviews. WebTalkGuys was just named the top Hidden Gem in PCWorld Magazines August 2002 issue. It is broadcast locally on KLAY 1180 AM Saturdays at 11 a.m. The show is also on CNET Radio in San Francisco, on the Web at www.CNETRadio.com, www.WebTalkGuys.com, via the XM Satellite Network, on IM Networks Sonic Box, on your Palm Pilot through Mazingo.net and on your phone from the Mobil Broadcast Network. Past shows and interviews are also Webcast via the Internet at www.webtalkguys.com.