The Difficulty of Opting

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-08-26 Print this article Print

out of ZabaSearch"> What seems to particularly exasperate consumers is the difficulty entailed in opting out of ZabaSearch. No phone numbers are available on the site. A phone number listed in Whois connects to an automated customer service answering service. A difficult-to-find spot on the Web site instructs users to send e-mail in order to receive directions on how to opt out.
The instructions for opting out request a payload of personal information, including e-mail address, full name with middle initial, address of the record, phone number, and year of birth, all to be jotted down, signed and snail-mailed.
And even these convoluted instructions dont ensure success in opting out. "I … tried to opt out of the site. I e-mailed multiple remove requests, and an autoresponder informed me that Id have to submit my name and other personal data," said a Wired reporter in an interview with the sites management team. "I did, but my records were never removed. I was promised that someone would respond personally, and I contacted the site three times as specified in the e-mail with all of the info requested. That felt pretty unresponsive. The datas still there, as it was when I first contacted you." ZabaSearch had not returned e-mail and phone calls by the time this article was posted. A similar lack of response was stamped out years ago by the Federal Trade Commission, when it fined credit bureaus for failing to provide human contacts when individuals attempted to inquire about their credit reports. No such act regulates online information brokers at this time, Gibbons said, although privacy advocates such as the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse are fighting to change that. "People like myself have called for this industry to be regulated, with steps similar to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, with a set of fair information principles," she said. "And one principle is accountability, and obviously this company is one thats not accountable. … Its just not in their best interest to [be easy to contact]," she said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel