Nod to instigator: bhi
Direct marketing is the most ruthlessly efficient identity maw/mill ever devised by the mind of wo/man/y. The above-ground identity market that it spawned is a thing to both fear and admire.
Identity resale, not identity theft, is the thing we must beware—-or harness, as individual consumers, to our advantage. Personal data is empowerment in economic matters. The more of it that passes into others’ hands, the less power we (the subjects of that data) have in everyday life--unless we keep our hooks on that data, no matter where it might roam. Personal data—-in the hands of merchants, financial institutions, credit bureaus,government agencies, and other organizations--regulates the solicitations we’re exposed to, the offers that come our way, the approvals and acceptances we receive, and the sort of opportunities we never see because we fit nobody’s prime consumption profile.
Identity lists—-sifted, sorted, categorized, qualified, aggregated, vetted, circulated, validated—-they’re the prime ammunition in the war that merchants fight to woo and win us. We're the prize they seek. Our identities--the inalienably personal attributes that we've surrendered to the entire online cosmos--are the addresses that the economy uses to reach out and dazzle us with its cornucopia. The less direct mail we receive, the more marginal we are to the economy and society. The day you receive no more direct solicitations, you’ve fallen off the direct marketing radar. You’ve become unlisted. Unreachable. Irrelevant. Not worth appealing or listening to. A non-consumer. Someone who can't find what they truly need in an economy that no longer recognizes their existence.
If you want modern business to serve your interests, you want to stay on their direct-marketing lists. The greater volume and variety of solicitations that target our real needs, the better we’re able to seek out and strike the best bargain for ourselves. The day you’re on everybody’s lists, but nobody can use or resell that data without getting your explicit permission, you’re supremely empowered. And the day we can stop direct marketers in one country from outsourcing their identity list milling operations to foreign shores, you gain sovereign control over your identity across the entire planet. You can get the best deal from merchants anywhere in the world marketplace.
Which is why I applaud EU article 29, which harmonizes the regulatory regimes for direct marketers' handling of personal data across all of that confederation’s member states. I hope that some day this federation/harmonization of direct-marketing regulations extends to the US and all other countries.
Direct marketing can be a tool for personal empowerment, if they bid the sovereign identity holder for access to this information gold. All bulk identity merchants should comply with these rules, no matter where/how they operate.