Sunday, January 19, 2014

So a “mailing list” is more like a dossier. I would also ask if OfficeMax paid for more than a name and address. Was there enough additional information to target their ads?
How to get really, really, really bad press. From NBC in Chicago:
An (sic) suburban Chicago couple who lost their teenage daughter in a car crash last year feels as if they were victimized again after receiving a letter from OfficeMax Thursday.
The envelope was addressed to Mike Seay, but the second line read “Daughter Killed in Car Crash.”
Office Max apologized, of course, and explained:
This mailing is a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider. We have reached out to the third-party mailing list provider to research what happened.
Apart from the stunning hurtfulness of a letter addressed that way, the father raises some excellent questions:
“Why would they have that type of information? Why would they need that?” Seay told NBC5. “What purpose does it serve anybody to know that? And how much other types of other information do they have if they have that on me, or anyone else? And how do they use that, what do they use that for?”
Read more on NBC.

“If we ship you something, you damn well better buy it!”
Amazon Wants to Send You Stuff Before You’ve Even Decided to Buy It
… In December, Amazon was granted U.S. Patent No. 8,615,473 B2 for what the company describes as “anticipatory shipping,” or a way of initiating the delivery process before a customer even clicks “buy.” The idea is to cut down delivery time and, possibly, make it even less necessary to visit brick and mortar stores.
… Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, told the Wall Street Journal: “It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data. Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors.”

Interesting how bureaucrats duck what seems to be a simple question. Do they assume no one will notice?
USED has replied to a letter sent by Senator Markey concerning the privacy of student information. You can read their response here (pdf). I’m still working my way through it, but it’s obvious that a lot of their response is that they have issued “guidance.” But “guidance” does not have the force of regulation and FERPA does not provide parents and students with any private cause of action. So I’ll keep working my way through their response, but already know that whatever they say lacks teeth.

Margo Day, Vice-President, U.S. Education at Microsoft, writes:
We have been working diligently with our customers in the K12 community to help them understand and meet data privacy obligations as schools increasingly move to innovative cloud-based services. A recently published study by the Fordham Center for Law and Information Policy makes it clear that there is still much work to be done. The positive reactions to the study and its recommendations– from school leaders, parent groups, industry groups and policy makers– suggests there is a unique opportunity for these groups to work together to solve many of the issues highlighted in the study. In particular, the study demonstrates that our industry needs to step up and be a better partner with schools by being more transparent about how we handle their data and by agreeing to clear restrictions on how we will use their data, including agreeing not use such data for advertising, sales or marketing purposes.
Those common sense recommendations are just part of the improved transparency related to use of student and institution data that our industry owes its customers in the education community.

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