By Denny Hatch
Ihave always believed that because a great deal of information about my wife and myself was out in cyberspace, our lives are much easier. When we moved to Philadelphia, we got a mortgage in one day. When we were in Istanbul, I stuck a piece of plastic into a machine and instantly became a Turkish millionaire (US$5 = 7.9 million Turkish lira).
In the past I've frequently quoted freelancer Ed McLean's rule: "You must dumb down what you know." To be successful, personal information about the subject must operate behind the copy, not be part of it (e.g., not: "Congratulations on your 67th birthday!" Rather: "If you are over 65—or have a family member or loved one who is—this offer can save you buckets of money").
In other words, the perception of an invasion of privacy is what spooks people, not the invasion itself.
Two World-class Nitwits: Ken Waight and Jeff Bezos
I work at home. Whenever I go to the kitchen for coffee or a sandwich, I surf the TV dials. One day I caught a C-SPAN call-in show with an amusing guy taking viewers' questions. I did not get his name, but I noted the Web site: www.lyinginponds.com. Upon finishing my sandwich, I went back to the computer and dialed up the URL. Up came the home page with this information boxed:
Hi Denny Hatch
Help lying in ponds fight partisanship.
Click to Give. Fully refundable.
At the bottom of the box in reversed out green type:
amazon honor system
How do we know your name?
My blood ran cold. I clicked on "How do we know your name?" Here's what came up:
Hello, Denny Hatch (If you're not Denny Hatch, click here.)
The Amazon Honor System lets you support your favorite Web sites. Paying is fast and easy: just click the "pay now" button to begin. Your credit card is secure. Your privacy is protected. Your payment is fully refundable for 30 days. Learn more.
Share your thoughts. E-mail a friend about this page.
Earn Money. Create your own Amazon Honor System PayPage
You are paying: Kenneth Waight (lyinginponds2)
Privacy Notice: No information about you will be shared with the recipient. Learn more about privacy.
Your payment amount: ($1.00 or more)
Total Collected: $0.00
Details from Kenneth Waight lyinginponds2
Welcome to my Amazon Honor System PayPage. Payment is fast and easy. Just click Pay Now and the deal is done in no time. As always, your credit card is secure and your privacy is protected at Amazon.com.
Waight is nuts—reeling off personal information to me that I never gave him and asking me for money before I've had a chance to look at his jerkwater Web site. And Bezos, the Godfather of Internet retailing, has revealed himself here to be an insensitive twit with a smartypants scheme to latch onto desperately needed money by compromising the privacy of his most valuable asset—a paying customer.
In the past two weeks I downloaded the following stories in the media about privacy with the idea of writing a column:
www.methodmarketing.com or by e-mail to: email@example.com.
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.