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Borders Books Customers, Watch For Database Opt-Out Email

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the you'd-think-opt-in-would-be-more-polite dept.

Privacy 88

An anonymous reader writes "That email you might be getting from Barnes and Noble might not be spam, but rather your only chance to prevent the comprehensive record of your buying history at defunct arch-rival Borders from ending up in B&N's data warehouse. You have15 days after the email arrives, assuming that it ever does, since chances are the email address you originally signed up with Borders is long gone." For that very reason, this sounds like a good place for the terms of the bankruptcy to require opting in, rather than opting out.

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Just a little biased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37597934)

This article (and the summary) sounds like it was written by someone with a serious axe to grind.

Yes, opt-in probably would have been better... but good grief. For the 0.01% of their customers who are actually going to care (remember, outside of the geek crowd most people don’t give a shit who has their data) ... this seems reasonable enough to me.

Worth mentioning that as I recall, in the Borders agreement (along with just about every other agreement we sign) you actually agree to let them give your data to a company they merge with or are bought out with.

Re:Just a little biased? (-1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597988)

This article (and the summary) sounds like it was written by someone with a serious axe to grind.

You would too if you had bought as many gay porn books as him.

Re:Just a little biased? (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598664)

Better be careful. There are some militant liberals around here. Talking like that can get you in trouble with the though police. I might agree with you, but is it worth risking being sent to Guantanamo for reeducation? I don't think so. Just keep your anti-gay thoughts to yourself, man, or they'll have you brainwashed within the year!

Re:Just a little biased? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37597990)

It's terrible, I tell you, somebody isbiased against having their personal information sold to who-the-fuck-knows who, without their consent, unless they manage to respond to an email, likely sent to a nonexistent address, that will probably be written in a style that is calculated to throw spamassasin into a killing rage, because he may or may not have implicitly 'agreed' to a contract of adhesion at some point in time.

Why can't somebody be more fair and balanced?

Oh, wait, of course; because there is no "other side" to this story, just customers getting shafted.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598090)

without their consent

You consent when you clicked the "I agree" button while signing up. I agree that this is a shitty deal, and we live in a time where you can't buy a pack of tictacs without signing away basic rights and something should be done about this ... but lets not delude ourselves.

against having their personal information sold to who-the-fuck-knows who

That pretty much happens all the time. That's why I was kind of surprised when this became a news item. And again, not saying it's not a bad thing, just saying it has kind of become the norm. You have to try pretty damn hard to not do business with companies who sell your data and don't even make a secret of it.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598450)

You consent when you clicked the "I agree" button while signing up.

I know this is the state of the world and of the law, but I don't think it's Right. My armchair understanding of contract law is that a contract is only valid when the parties have a "meeting of the minds". If I click a checkbox without reading a contract, then plainly there is no meeting of the minds. Furthermore, even if I DO read it, I'm not a lawyer thus cannot possibly understand it, and thus plainly there is no meeting of the minds. The only "contract" which does not require a meeting of the minds is the law.

So, what would I propose? I propose that we have two thresholds for contracts:

1. A person is presented with a contract, which is read to him word-for-word by a personal attorney which he himself has paid for. The person asks questions about anything he doesn't understand, and the lawyer has the responsibility to explain things that are commonly misunderstood. The person then signs the contract with his written signature (or digital signature which must include a personally held secret) and the contract is stored for as long as it is to be valid. If any of this is not done correctly, the contract is invalid and the law applies; OR

2. The law applies.

That would put the responsibility for good consumer-producer agreements onto the political system, where I think it belongs. The current free-ish market for license agreements is, I think, Bad. I think this proposal would result in a Better World, and I'm a political moderate whose policy preferences are for whatever will lead to a Better World.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598624)

This is largely my view.

In general, I don't think people should have to make legal agreements every time they buy something. There should be a set of common laws that dictate the saner of the stuff found in every agreement, and probably some give n` take on the other stuff. Once in place, business and consumers should implicitly be bound by these rules. Any extra agreement, as you say, should involve a lawyer.. not a button. If a business can't operate within the terms that society dictates, and their customers are unwilling to lawyer up to make purchases.. then they just can't do business.

Of course, putting my cynic hat back on, who do you think will have more influence over those laws. The average consumer, or the big businesses with the cash?

Re:Just a little biased? (0)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599380)

You do realize that if you didn't agree to a contract, Borders could have just done anything they wanted with the data, right? Like sell it repeatedly to spammers? Or post it on billboards? (I love the fact you think 'The law applies' would help here.)

However, Borders couldn't have sent email to anyone, because that requires consent, and you've just decided to blow up contract law so no one can consent to anything, ever. Neither can Borders actually sell you stuff, because they can't charge your credit card without your consent, which now does not exist, at least not online.

Perhaps you should stop being stupid. If you want to require contracts be simpler, go ahead, but you can't just require they don't exist at all.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600312)

No. I don't realize that. I realize that if I didn't agree to a contract, Borders would do with my data what the law allows, which is a lot LESS than what their contract stipulates.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607010)

Really?

Would you like to point what what law, exactly, stops someone from selling your address, phone number, books you've bought, etc?

Because I don't know what universe you live in, but such laws do not exist in America.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37615834)

Well gosh, I guess I can do your research for you. I'm a bit busy, but you can start here:

http://www.privacy.ca.gov/privacy_laws.htm [ca.gov]

http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/glbact/glbsub1.htm [ftc.gov]

http://www.law.state.ak.us/department/civil/consumer/4548.html [state.ak.us]

http://government.dc.gov/DC/Government/Data+&+Transparency/Consumer+Protection/Consumer+Information+101/Consumer+Personal+Information+Security+Breach+Notification+Act [dc.gov]

http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/30_14_17.htm [mt.gov]

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1349.19 [ohio.gov]

http://www.cdt.org/privacy/guide/protect/laws.php [cdt.org]

Telecommunications Act (1996) Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI)

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003

Shall I keep going? or are you prepared to admit that in this very same universe that we share, here in America, there are in fact laws governing the use, protection, and sharing of personal information? The laws aren't what I personally want them to be, but they exist, and the whole point of what I was saying is that the current hands-off free-market approach is BAD, and would be LESS BAD if there were MORE LAWS in this area -- a point which survives your assertion that the laws don't exist. Actually I don't have time to keep looking things up for you, so if you aren't prepared to admit it, then your denial will have to be the end of the discussion.

My final point, as a question to you, would be why would Borders even have a contract, if the contract didn't expand its rights beyond the legal defaults? Why would it bother to pay a lawyer to make up such a contract? Why would it bother to present the contract to consumers? If there were no laws governing it, and they could do whatever they want, then they would, no contract required. It doesn't even make sense that they would tie their own hands with their own contract, resulting in a lesser ability for them to do what they want to do.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617064)

Hey, idiot, none of that has the slightest bit to do with what we're talking about. Google 'privacy laws' does not magically make them relevant the conversation.

The first link is a overview of California law, none of which is relevant. The second link is for banks. The third link is about security breaches and social security numbers, as is, obviously, the fourth link. The fifth is about identity theft. The sixth is about security breaches.

The seventh, interestingly, is about the few specific laws on that topic. There actuallyare specific laws protecting specific customer records for specific businesses, such as video rentals

Now, SHOW ME WHERE A LAW COVERS BOOK PURCHASES, or shut the hell up and stop pretending random google searches prove your point.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617200)

Thanks for moving the goalpost, now I can ignore you in good conscience.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625828)

From my original post:

Would you like to point what what law, exactly, stops someone from selling your address, phone number, books you've bought, etc?

From my newest post:

Now, SHOW ME WHERE A LAW COVERS BOOK PURCHASES, or shut the hell up and stop pretending random google searches prove your point.

Yeah, I sure 'moved the goal posts', you idiot.

The law forbids no one from selling your name. The law forbids no one from selling your address. The law forbids no one from selling your book purchases. Hell, the law doesn't prevent them from just outright publishing that info to the entire world. (It might stop them from doing that with your email address, I do not know.)

You seem to think citing random legal overviews of the privacy law you found on Google disproves this. You know how to prove something is illegal? You cite the actual law making it such.

But, oh, I forgot, I 'moved the goalposts' from 'Show me what law makes selling book purchases and address and phone numbers to third parties' to, uh, 'Show me what law makes selling book purchases to third parties' . (Perhaps in your head that's only illegal if addresses and phone numbers are sold with it, or something.) Well, I will happily amend that back to the original if that is what concerns you:

Would you like to point what what law, EXACTLY, stops someone from selling your address, phone number, books you've bought, etc?

It is not permissible to produce a big list of links that have absolutely nothing to do with such a law in response. You must cite exactly a law, which is done by saying something like US Code Title 15 Chapter 1 3. (Or multiple such law that, together, do this.)

If this is difficult, be aware that on almost every page you linked to, such laws were correctly cited, and you can just copy their cite. Of course, the law on those pages had nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600180)

Technically, a contract has two elements. First is offer and acceptance, and the other is consideration.

The offer Borders made was to sell you a book at a certain price AND to agree to whatever other terms ("I agree to -terms-"). By purchasing the product, you've agreed to the terms of the sale (offer and acceptance).

The consideration part is interesting, because contracts for no money exchange (or exchange of goods of value) aren't valid (it's why you have contracts saying you agree to pay $1). That happens when money actually changes hands (for online orders, when the item shipped and your credit card charged).

You're free to not agree to the contract (cancel the purchase), or amend it (if you want to go through the trouble) and present a counteroffer.

So your act of purchasing a book pretty much shows you agreed to the terms of sale. Also, the fact that consideration happens afterwards means if they make a pricing mistake, they can cancel your order as the contract hasn't been formed yet (no consideration has been exchanged). However, once they ship and charge you, they can't come after you for more money.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600558)

But to be "accepted", don't you have to have a "meeting of the minds"? (I don't know the answer to that; IANAL.) If I click a checkbox saying I read a contract, but I didn't actually read the contract, then no reasonable person could say that I did in fact read and understand the contract. For instance, when I bought my house, a human being sat me down in a room and went through the mortgage document with me paragraph-by-paragraph and explained it and had me sign it on each page.

Here's what Wiki says:

Meeting of the minds (also referred to as mutual agreement, mutual assent or consensus ad idem) is a phrase in contract law used to describe the intentions of the parties forming the contract. In particular it refers to the situation where there is a common understanding in the formation of the contract. This condition or element is often considered a necessary requirement to the formation of a contract.

That last sentence is interesting -- especially the word "often". Maybe fore click-thru licenses, the minds don't have to meet. I mean, APPARENTLY they don't, since the licenses have in fact been enforced, and it is obvious that the minds did not meet.

Re:Just a little biased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599146)

I consented to Borders. Not whomever scarfs the data up after Borders goes TU.

What really is needed is part of the bankruptcy code being that PII is not transferred to the new firm unless explicitly authorized by whomever the record is about. This means that someone can't buy a server from eBay that happened to be a payroll box from a defunct company, and put all the employees' data as a torrent for anyone to peruse with impunity.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599258)

I consented to Borders. Not whomever scarfs the data up after Borders goes TU.

The agreement you consented to explicitly gave them permission to give your data to other parties they do business with, are bought by, or merge with. Was spelled right out (and is in a depressingly large number of similar agreements). Should it be legal.. hell no.. but it's reality.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598172)

You did consent. You just didn't read the agreement you made with Borders fully if you think you didn't.

Re:Just a little biased? (0)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598176)

Oh, please. If people had given a crap that they might be tied to their purchases, they wouldn't have tied themselves to their purchases in the first place. Nobody forces you to get a Borders card. Nobody forces you to give any kind of accurate information that they can track back to you. My mom has never had a problem with saying "I don't have an email address" even though it is complete bunk, just because she doesn't want people (or retailers) emailing her.

The idea that people are out there going "OH MY GOD! I GAVE MY INFORMATION TO BORDERS AND NOW BARNES AND NOBLE IS GOING TO HAVE IT?! AIEEEEEEEEE!" is just naive crap.

The OP was exactly right. The vast majority of people don't care about things like this, at least not enough to actually do anything about it but pay lip service to their outrage. The rest are nerds on sites like Slashdot pretending that they represent any kind of majority opinion (or that anybody who disagrees with them must be too stupid to understand).

But you won't believe any of this anyway, so I'll leave you to your sanctimonious, sarcastic outrage and let the hivemind get around to modding me down.

Re:Just a little biased? (2)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598510)

The rest are nerds on sites like Slashdot pretending that they represent any kind of majority opinion

Well, okay, but just to be clear, I think the nerds on Slashdot are making the argument that segmenting data with opt-in is the Right thing to do even if it is not the Popular thing to do.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599828)

Quite so. The majority usually won't care, even if not caring today can mean major problems decades down the road. They depend on others giving a fsck.
As Plato noted, democracy only works as long as the demos are educated and take an interest.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600366)

Totally agreed. In very similar ways, I count on other people caring about feeding starving Africans, fighting against human rights abuses in Iran and China, building housing projects in Atlanta, prosecuting wars in Afghanistan -- pretty much everything. I do have opinions on those matters, I just don't feel them strongly enough to do much about them, aside from vote. I happen to be the kind of person who cares about the effects of copyrights and the legal ramifications of click-though licenses, so I do a small amount of advocacy in those areas. How grand to live in a world where we can specialize.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598216)

Oh, wait, of course; because there is no "other side" to this story, just customers getting shafted.

Shafting the customers seems to be SOP these days.

Service doesn't seem to be an issue, because the competition doesn't give that either, so now competition is defined in terms of who can shaft the customers the best.

--
Ben Dover.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598270)

so now competition is defined in terms of who can shaft the customers the best.

Yup. Best quote on this I've heard (and have no idea where it is from and am paraphrasing from fuzzy memory):

"the biggest deciding factor on who to do business with is who uses the best lube."

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598444)

If you're trying to make a blanket, universal declaration, yes it's evil. In this specific context, though, you have the database of a worldwide book retailer bought by another one that's more or less equivalent, who plans to use it for more or less the exact same purpose in the same way as Borders.

Now, things might be different if the mailing list were purchased by some religious group who planned to scour it for "unwholesome" purchases to identify "sinners" and make their lives miserable... and that's why there should be a degree of judicial oversight and a legal requirement that any such transfer be approved by the court, and only to a purchaser with the intent and means of using it in the same way for substantially the same purpose as before. Barnes & Noble clearly falls into that category. Amazon mostly does (no actual brick & mortar stores). Wal Mart or Buy.com would be a slippery case. The New Reformed Church of Jesus Christ the Vengeful Redeemer (and its 17 members, not including the psychotic preacher's family) from somewhere in rural Mississippi would be an obvious example of the other extreme. The hard part is drawing the line in a way that makes it easy for someone like B&N to buy it, and impossible for someone like the NRCJCVR to buy it.

A reasonable compromise might be a law that placed the data in escrow, and allowed its purchaser a single opportunity to contact the individuals via email and allow them to either formally opt in and allow their data to be handed over to the purchaser, or do nothing and have their data be permanently destroyed 6 months later. With a further rule that no single database can be sold to more than 3 potential purchasers, and that anyone receiving the first email can explicitly opt out of both the current offer and all remaining ones with a single click.

I can see why some are objecting to this specific transfer for the sake of having a consistent policy, but hysteria over it is just making the broader cause look silly.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598780)

The New Reformed Church of Jesus Christ the Vengeful Redeemer operates a summer camp in Greenville, Mississippi. But, the church is actually located across the river, in Arkansas. And, yes, all the kids at summer camp happen to look like muppets. That is one of the dangers of inbreeding, after all. Where do you think Jim Henson got all his ideas, anyway?

What's with the profanity? (2)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598604)

Can't anyone here speak politely without swearing? Please be polite.

Re:What's with the profanity? (2)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598710)

Interestingly, I find over-the-top "you must be a moron if you don't agree with my opinion" type sarcasm puts me off reading someones argument (even when I generally agree with it) way faster than bad language. Language just adds emphasis, whereas the sarcasm shows a blatant one-sided mindset... and it just rubs me the wrong way.

Re:What's with the profanity? (2)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598932)

They can't even make a point without proffering the most offensive slurs against Christianity. You want polite? Go to Trees and Things. [trresandthings.com]

To be fair, they are mostly ACs. What do you expect, since they are ashamed of themselves and largely spew so they can respond back and forth.

Re:Just a little biased? (2)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599294)

There's also the fact that I have a nook already, so any data B&N can glean from buying my data is just the few books I bought from Borders instead of them. Not really a big deal to most people who frequent bookstores. Most have purchased items at both retailers.

Re:Just a little biased? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600080)

Not really a big deal to most people who frequent bookstores. Most have purchased items at both retailers.

This needs points. At first I thought to myself, "Hrm, I probably already deleted that email. Damn."

Then I thought to myself, "Wait, B&N already has an entry for me. Heck they probably have MORE on me since my Borders purchases tended to be in-store while B&N was online."

So...yeah...even if I opted out, nothing would come of it.

Glad I Never Signed Up (1)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598014)

I always knew there was a reason I never gave Borders SHIT when they asked. And boy, did they ever ask. More like DEMAND.

Re:Glad I Never Signed Up (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600086)

If you'd just provide your home telephone number and email address, I'll be happy to reply to your post in a meaningful way.

I wonder if my Borders Reward Points, along with my personal information, will transfer to B&N. At least that would be something.

Does it really matter? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598048)

I realize the importance of the general principle here (that companies shouldn't be allowed to treat customer db's as assets). But as a practical matter in this case, does it really matter? Is Barnes and Noble knowing my book buying history any different than Borders knowing it? If I were so paranoid about B&N knowing it, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have bought on Borders under my real name in the first place.

Re:Does it really matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598376)

But as a practical matter in this case, does it really matter? Is Barnes and Noble knowing my book buying history any different than Borders knowing it? If I were so paranoid about B&N knowing it, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have bought on Borders under my real name in the first place.

Better question: Is there any difference at all between what B&N is doing, and 100% unsolicited spam?

I see no difference between spam: getting an email out of the blue that I did not sign up for which is attempting to solicit money from me; compared to what B&N is doing, which is sending an email out of the blue that I did not sign up for which is attempting to solicit money from me.

Barnes and Noble has resorted to spamming to advertise, and should be treated like any other fly-by-night company that does the same - massive black-listing.
They know this is what happens (Their staff use spam filters too) so one can only assume they are both expecting it and desiring it.

I also see little difference in someone who has just spammed, and someone who with all seriousness announces the fact they WILL spam you even if you don't want it.

If you threaten someone, or spread lies about someone to harm their reputation, then it doesn't at all matter to the law if one afterward says "Oh, I was only kidding!"
Same applies here.

Should us network operators preemptively blacklist a known spammer, days before they start their massive announced spam campaign?

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598752)

Yeah, its all a bit stupid. The main point was that borders agreed to not sell your information to anyone. Well, they also promised to pay their suppliers money for the goods and services provided. In a bankruptcy, the judge ends up deciding who's promises are kept and at what level. It should not be a surprise to anyone that these lists could be sold in the case of a bankruptcy. In fact, I'd argue people should be thankful that they ended up in the hands of barns and nobles, rather than Jim's discount organ enlargement and credit theft inc.

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598986)

This is exactly why when I got the email I shrugged and deleted it. Life is too short to spend precious time worrying about dumb shit like this. In fact, I will now cease commenting on it and go back to downing mimosas.

Opting In? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598050)

"For that very reason, this sounds like a good place for the terms of the bankruptcy to require opting in, rather than opting out."

This makes no sense? Why would anybody op in for more marketing?

On a side note, Borders in in bankruptcy. That means the judge gets to void any contract they like and sell any asset they like - like marketing lists. If we want to address this, it needs to be addressed at the Federal level.

Re:Opting In? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598306)

Why would anybody opt in for more marketing?

Oh! I see the young boy is finally learning! Very good, Junior! That's the whole point.

We don't want it. They shouldn't be able to force it.

There's NEVER any incentive to being subjected to more marketing, and that's why they shouldn't be permitted to railroad us.

Blah blah blah, sales. Blah blah blah, coupons. Blah blah blah, deals. Do I look like some dippy suburbanite soccer mom? I mean really.

I don't drink diet soda to get a fraction of the calories. I just drink less soda.

I don't jump on the low-low-discount bandwagon, just because some thing is cheap. I buy what I actually need.

Don't market to me. Does this really need to be explained?

Re:Opting In? (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598644)

Don't market to me. Does this really need to be explained?

The only explanation the marketing company needs is that they paid $10 to get 10k email address, so if even one of them buys a book they're in great shape.
They can be guaranteed someone will respond in a group that large. As much as I identify with your position, unless humans change overnight and every single person suddenly acts like you, the marketers will continue to have incentive to spam. Either that or a revolution that destroys the social relations that give incentive to marketing, but such an upheaval is not likely to occur in a place where the average person's troubles are so frivolous that they find advertising to be a major burden.

Re:Opting In? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599704)

No, you look like a clueless dumb arise. I soccer mom has savy, the likes you'd never understand. For instance, the only information that's being transferred, is information that people gave borders and in return were given discounts, special offers, and marketing material emailed to them. Thats why people opt in to advertising, when it gives them free and/or cheaper stuff.

Re:Opting In? (1)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599938)

How about signing up for marketing information so you get 30% off all your purchases at a retailer? Seems good to me. That's what I got out of giving Borders my info.

Re:Opting In? (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598472)

Why would anybody op in for more marketing?

I can't answer this question, but as someone who is regularly tasked with fixing technical bits of online sweepstakes, I certainly can tell you that people do opt-in for marketing with valid email, phone number, and home address in great quantities. The prizes are unimpressive and the odds of winning are astronomical, but people still sign up.

I guess there's always some incentive there, and in this case the incentive will be something as small as the chance to receive great offers from esteemed partners. Maybe not even that bait is thrown, but still there will be some who take satisfaction in simply receiving an email or testing their spam filters.
There's a strong irrational component in human behavior, and every attempt to explain humans without it always falls far short of the mark.

Re:Opting In? (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600238)

I've won twice online for things (CPU & Mobo from AMD and an HDTV). So my relatives regularly want me to sign up for things thinking I somehow am more lucky then them.

Re:Opting In? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598662)

Why would anybody op in for more marketing?

Uh, presumably because they want it.

And if there is some thing which nobody ever wants, then why would we live in a world where that thing is so incredibly common while at the same time being so easy to get rid of?

Listen, people: if we don't want to be surrounded by advertising all the time, we don't have to be. If we want to, we could get rid of most of it with a few simple changes to the law.

Re:Opting In? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37601024)

Listen, people: if we don't want to be surrounded by advertising all the time, we don't have to be. If we want to, we could get rid of most of it with a few simple changes to the law.

Problem with that. Laws are made by whoever buys them these days. Guess who has the money to buy them. Hint... it's not citizens.

Re:Opting In? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599810)

"This makes no sense? Why would anybody op in for more marketing?"

To get $40 off the price of their kindle, to get coupons, to be updated about new arrivals at their most frequently shopped at stores, to get the 'free' version of an app on their phone, etc... There are plenty of reasons people agree to get marketing sent to them..

Re:Opting In? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37602144)

Why would anybody op in for more marketing?

I can't speak for everybody, but I personally have signed up for a couple of mailing lists of publishers. Of course I haven't given them any true personal data, and the email that they have is a long, unique address under my own domain.

I signed up because I'm interested in books of these genres and it doesn't bother me to have Thunderbird filter and file those emails into a certain folder. Then when I have nothing better to do I can go through the new announcements and see if there is anything I'd like to read. There are maybe a couple of emails per month, hardly a bandwidth concern, and I never see those emails until I want to.

URL: www.bn.com/borders (1)

kbonin (58917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598128)

According to the email I received, go to www.bn.com/borders and enter the email you registered under. You'll need access to that account to click through the confirmation email...

Re:URL: www.bn.com/borders (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598458)

So wait. To get out of turning your email address over to B&N you have to give your email address to B&N? ** Holds hand up **

Anyway there's nothing one-sided about this. You are perfectly free to make a list of all of the companies that do business with you and sell the list to whoever you like.

Re:URL: www.bn.com/borders (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600100)

Jokes on B&N, they already HAVE my email address!!

Re:URL: www.bn.com/borders (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37601186)

Har. and like me I'd wager you don't give a rat's ass. On the contrary, you'll occasionally take advantage of some discount or other. People are blowing this way out of proportion out of sheer boredom or something.

Re:URL: www.bn.com/borders (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608102)

B&N isn't some faceless entity using Windows machines with worms on them to relay their spam. If you get mail from them after opting out, then you could pursue damages under CAN-SPAM.

(queue a cynical response about B&N being no different, and instead selling the info to a subsidiary or something)

buying history (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598134)

Generally I'm a fan of opt-in and agree that should be the option, but the bankruptcy court's job is to recover the maximum amount of money for the people Borders owed money to. The database is worth more opt-out, so don't expect a change there. Of the options available, none really good, B&N getting the database is not that bad. I have a buying history with Borders, Amazon and B&N, so integrating my buying history from Borders with B&N is a far preferable outcome to the database being sold to some marketing company that would resell my buying habits to spammers all over the world. We give these companies access to our information to get slightly better deals, if you are really concerned about your privacy, pay cash and refuse the discounts, or lobby congress to make your purchasing habits your property and not the property of the company you are buying from.

Re:buying history (2)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598202)

Uhm no, it's not an "asset", it's a limited license to use your personal data for some purposes. The judge suddenly decided that the license from _you_, a third party to the bankruptcy, can be somehow extended without your consent.

Re:buying history (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598436)

can be somehow extended without your consent.

Unfortunately, you do consent when you click the "I Agree" button. It was clearly stated in their terms that your data would be given to other companies if they merged or where bought.

It sucks that we can't buy anything these days without signing these kind of mostly one sides "you have little choice" type agreements.. but it's reality.

Re:buying history (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598684)

My guess is that the judge "suddenly decided" that way because the terms of the program license as well as the governing law determined the decision. I'm not a lawyer, though, and I haven't read this case either.

Re:buying history (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599732)

EVERY "agree to click" thing includes terms about your first born and so on. The problem is, the enforcement is uneven. If the law decided that every single term is valid (and also, shouldn't be left "just in case"), it would be almost as good since people would have to actually read click-throughs.

Fortunately, on my current side of the pond, personal data cannot be so trivially sold. I almost did end up on yours, though, so I'm scared about how things are.

Re:buying history (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600436)

Yeah. I wish the law were different, but it's not. What country are you from, which protects you so?

I hope you don't say Britain; I'd rather live in a country where B&N can buy Borders' customer records, than a theocratic monarchy where government cameras watch over me while I don't have the free-speech rights to call quacks out for their nonsense.

Re:buying history (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599534)

Yeah, no. Its an asset. How do I know its an asset? Because B&N was willing to pay money for it. That makes it an asset. I'm sure other stake holders like vendors wanted the money borders agreed to pay them too. The judges' job is to figure out how to break promises AND contracts in the most fair and equitable way.

Re:buying history (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599888)

So if I want to pay money for a slice of your heart (so I can cook it), would a judge help me with it?

Permission to use that data belongs to a third party (the customers), so it didn't belong to Borders in the first place (they had only a limited one with non-disclosure). No matter if someone promises me that slice of your heart, there is no way a sane law would enforce that promise on you, as this was not a part of any contract you made.

Re:buying history (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600808)

Great analogy! Its just like when your head explodes in a black hole the brain turns into a 66 Chevy! Color me convinced!

Re:buying history (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608118)

I'm sure there are markets where you could sell that heart, and the illegality of it probably makes that asset worth a lot more. So yes, still an asset.

The data is encumbered with non-disclosure (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599630)

Which makes it a LIABILITY for Borders, as far as I'm concerned.

Re:buying history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598288)

While I agree with you on almost all points, I do hope that the Bankruptcy Court puts the privacy of countless U.S. citizens over some corporations shareholders. I realize the items that people purchase from a bookstore may seem innocent enough, but that is information I gave to Borders, not some other company. I realize that this example is highly flawed, but if Borders were a privately owned and operated hospital going bankrupt, would we allow all patient records to be sold off to some random company that would use the information to afford them leverage over the patients? Simply to help recoup the losses of hospital-borders investors?

The bottom line here is personal information privacy. We permitted borders that information assuming that the data would be used by borders for marketting purposes, not to be sold off at auction later on. (Yes, even that was ignorant, because most companies sell that info PRIOR to going bankrupt without our consent, but that too should be changed.)

Got mine last week. (1)

danbuter (2019760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598144)

I got the email last week. I'm fine with B&N knowing what books I bought at Borders. Now maybe B&N will realize how much more I spent there because of coupons and start offering coupons themselves.

Re:Got mine last week. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598768)

Man I hate coupons. In the interenet age they can show you sale items when you visit the site. There is no need for them to push coupons to your email. I preferred B&N flat discount. Though once I moved to ebooks the discount went away and so did my membership in the discount program.

Re:Got mine last week. (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608130)

Funny how they discount real books that you own, but not the _license_ you buy to read an ebook, which often is just a few bucks less than the real thing.

URLs and email from B&B (5, Informative)

Sharkus (677553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598194)

The URL you want is: http://www.bn.com/borders [bn.com] which redirects to: http://ebm.cheetahmail.com/r/regf2?a=0&aid=266639891&n=100 [cheetahmail.com]
Full text of the aforementioned email from B&N below.


Dear Borders Customer,

My name is William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble, and I'm writing to you today on behalf of the entire B&N team to make you aware of important information regarding your Borders account.

First of all let me say Barnes & Noble uniquely appreciates the importance bookstores play within local communities, and we're very sorry your Borders store closed.

As part of Borders ceasing operations, we acquired some of its assets including Borders brand trademarks and their customer list. The subject matter of your DVD and other video purchases will be part of the transferred information. The federal bankruptcy court approved this sale on September 26, 2011.

Our intent in buying the Borders customer list is simply to try and earn your business. The majority of our stores are within close proximity to former Borders store locations, and for those that aren't, we offer our award- winning NOOK digital reading devices that provide a bookstore in your pocket. We are readers like you, and hope that through our stores, NOOK devices, and our bn.com online bookstore we can win your trust and provide you with a place to read and shop.

It's important for you to understand however you have the absolute right to opt-out of having your customer data transferred to Barnes & Noble. If you would like to opt-out, we will ensure all your data we receive from Borders is disposed of in a secure and confidential manner. Please visit www.bn.com/borders before October 15, 2011 to do so.

Should you choose not to opt-out by October 15, 2011, be assured your information will be covered under the Barnes & Noble privacy policy, which can be accessed at www.bn.com/privacy. B&N will maintain any of your data according to this policy and our strict privacy standards.

At Barnes & Noble we share your love of books — whatever shape they take. We also take our responsibility to service communities by providing a local bookstore very seriously. In the coming weeks, assuming you don't opt-out, you'll be hearing from us with some offers to encourage you to shop our stores and try our NOOK products. We hope you'll give us a chance to be your bookstore.

Re:URLs and email from B&B (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598746)

Yeah, I got the email as well. It's remarkably reasonable (at least as much as it can be with an opt-out system, and they wouldn't have bought the data if it was strictly opt-in because it wouldn't make business sense). Note that the section on how to opt-out is bolded in the original.

B&N already had my email so it's a moot point for me.

Re:URLs and email from B&B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599360)

Yup, got mine, opted out. Simple process.

Seriously...this is an issue? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598198)

OMG...they went bankrupt and sold a portion of their company to...to...to...um the other big box book store.

Um, gee, considering 90% of those who went to Borders also frequently B&N. Is this really an issue. Yes, I am sure there is that rare handful of people who were so offending by the fact that B&N put Glenn Beck's book on a front stand that they vowed never to do business with B&N again.

But seriously, for most book reading folks. We're not bothered. And heck, we're waiting for that 40% off one item B&N coupon to all former Borders subscribers. ;-)

I really don't think ANYONE but the MORONIC are concerned when a company goes out of business and merges/sells off their info to a single other business in the same market.

Those of us concerned with privacy are worried by the likes of a company continually selling their lists off to any business that wants it. To make all this hype over a passing of the torch is just ridiculous.

In fact, it's kind of like a dying man looking to his his brother, and greatest rival, and saying "Take care of my family for me when I'm gone."

Re:Seriously...this is an issue? (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598250)

Some may fear the barista at the B&N Starbucks will now know the consumer was "cheating" on her with the barista of the Border's... coffee spot place... and that now she will never give them her phone number and miss any chance of dating her! :P

Re:Seriously...this is an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598666)

I was cheating on both of them with some girl at Starbucks. Then things turned into a Penthouse letter.

Dear Penthouse,

I never thought this would happen to me.......

Re:Seriously...this is an issue? (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37601078)

Some may fear the barista at the B&N Starbucks will now know the consumer was "cheating" on her with the barista of the Border's... coffee spot place... and that now she will never give them her phone number and miss any chance of dating her! :P

The Borders coffee place was Seattle's Best, at least at my local Borders... which, of course, is owned by Starbucks. So you were basically cheating on her with her sister. Well, maybe half sister.

Hot, like coffee.

Re:Seriously...this is an issue? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599292)

Yeah, this is somewhat stupid.

People signed up to get notifications about email books from Borders. They created an account at Borders that allowed Borders to track them. (I have never bought from Border online, but I assume that they could have purchased without one, like you can at B&N.)

Now Barnes and Noble, for all intents and purposes, is Borders. They are now doing that. They appear to be doing exactly what Borders did with that data.

I am baffled as to what the problem is even supposed to be.

And the idea that this is 'opt out' email, because we all know opt-out is bad, right? Except this is an additional chance to opt-out of something they already opted-in to. They signed up at Borders to receive email about books and discounts they might be interested in! B&N will now be sending exactly same sort of email instead.

Re:Seriously...this is an issue? (2)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599922)

Those of us concerned with privacy are worried by the likes of a company continually selling their lists off to any business that wants it.

That is in fact precisely the issue here.

Its not that B&N another book store acquired the lists from Borders through the bankruptcy.

Its specifically that B&N asserted that they shouldn't be bound by Borders privacy policy.

ie. B&N essentially started out by specifically asserting that it is in fact free to continually sell of the lists to any business that wants it. You know, that thing you said reasonable people concerned with privacy might get upset about?? Guess what, that's why they are upset.

So... a bookstore will get my bookstore history... (2)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598232)

I got to say, I dont care in this case, unless B&N has a history of selling their customer data I don't know about, that is.

But this is just a company that (from my understanding) has exactly the same line of business than a company I entrusted my purchase data to. Not only that, now, if I want to buy books, the only big chain option is Barns & Nobles so I would likely restart my history there anyways.

So, why so many are making a buzz over this?

If this was Google or Facebook buying the data to "better target ads", I'd be hunting my junkmail to dig out that email and make sure I opt out.

Re:So... a bookstore will get my bookstore history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598428)

So, why so many are making a buzz over this?

Because you are not allowed to pick and choose. Next time the company aquiring your personal information might be Sony and they will gladly give away that information to some nice russian dude that will sell that information to SMQY or some other nice company that you never have heard of.
People are making a buzz because they want their rights to erode.

Re:So... a bookstore will get my bookstore history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598506)

"So, why so many are making a buzz over this?"

They're not. It's only the submitter of the story trying to make it seem like some big deal. To 99.999% of everybody, there is nothing to see here.

Re:So... a bookstore will get my bookstore history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599476)

This [slashdot.org] is why you should care.

B&N doesn't necessarily have a history of selling their customer data, but they made it very clear that they don't want to be held to the privacy agreement that you made with Borders.

The advantages of having one's own domain (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37598574)

I have my own domain and email server. Every company gets it's own email address. I don't want to get from a company anymore, or I start getting spam to a specific address, I simply delete that address. You know, like I did to Border's email address when they went out of business.

Re:The advantages of having one's own domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599346)

it's = it is

its is the possessive pronoun

Tempest in a teapot (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599048)

The Toysmart precedent, which was used by the FTC here, is that selling the information is allowed only if the purchaser is in the same business and agrees to obey the same privacy policy. While it does violate any pledge not to sell your data at all, selling data under these circumstances can't cause most of the harm that selling your data normally causes. It's not as if they would be allowed to sell it to Facebook or Publisher's Clearing House.

About the only realistic situation I can think of where someone would be okay with one bookstore having their information but not with another bookstore having it would be if they charged frequent customers more than infrequent customers (something Amazon has been known to do) and getting the information from the other bookstore pushed you into the frequent category.

It's not the bankruptcy (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37599138)

It's the previous and ongoing sharing.

This is my idea for a novel. In a future world, not too distant, everything you buy is known by multiple corporations, immediately. If you buy a new shirt and slacks, well, you get an offer on your deck for a deal on a new belt and shoes. If you buy cereal, you get a prompt directing you to where the new fortified milk is.

As they fully develop your profile, they start sending you specific advertisments, everywhere, so that inevitably you only see stuff that you *should* be interested in buying. If you decide out of the blue to buy a new hat, for instance, well, before you can complete the sale there are offers on your deck to consider. Looking for a new piece of furniture? You not only get search results for all kinds of related or similar stuff, but you get offers based on your price flexibility. Or to put it less kindly, you get offers for stuff priced as they think you ought be be paying. Discounts from higher-priced stuff. If all you wanted was a cheap, cute watch, well, you'll have to go to a cheap, cute watch store, cause when you walk into a regular watch store the clerks already know what price strata you should be looking at, and they direct you to those display cases. And the price tags? Magic - they are all electronic, linked to the master, so (kinda like Kohl's) the prices change depending on who's in front of the case. Or go blank if there is too much diversity among the buyers. This is not even fantasy.

Oh, and if you're short of funds? Some stores won't even open the door for you.

Imagine the fun when your account is hijacked, and you seem broke. You can't even approach a bank to check your balance. You're outcast. A few bits here or there, an enterprising individual that skimmed your ID, and you're not just broke, you're locked out of your own apartment, since you can't afford it any more. Your employer can't pay you since your account is dead, so you're fired.

The point is, once this marketing data is shared enough, it becomes YOU. My objection is to the sharing. They should disclose where the data goes. I don't believe for a moment that my history with Borders stayed with Borders, and I don't for a moment believe that BN will keep it to itself. Once the publishers also get the data, it's out of the bag. I have no hope of every controlling it.

And I never did.

This is why privacy policies mean jack shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37599598)

As soon as a company goes bankrupt, EVERYTHING gets sold. Suddenly nothing matters anymore except liquidation and golden parachutes.

Yet so many companies still bother to write flowery privacy policies that boldly claim that your personal info is yours and will NEVER be sold or shared.

Re:This is why privacy policies mean jack shit (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37600248)

Yet so many companies still bother to write flowery privacy policies that boldly claim that your personal info is yours and will NEVER be sold or shared.

Borders didn't even do that. Their policy explicitly stated that they _could_ give your data to companies they merge with, aquire, or are bought out by.

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