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News Editor

Send e-mail . . . no, really, that’s fine

May 31, 20044 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMessaging Apps

How much permission does permission-based e-mail require of a responsible business sender? The question arose recently as I pondered my unusual interactions with an anti-spam vendor called Habeas.

How much permission does permission-based e-mail require of a responsible business sender?

The question arose recently as I pondered my unusual interactions with an anti-spam vendor called Habeas, which some of you might know as the company that uses trademark law and poetry – haiku – to do battle with the purveyors of junk e-mail. (You’ve got to root for them if for no other reason than the novelty.)

First, a little background: As is the case for most anyone in my line of work, a number of press releases drop into my in-box every day from companies that have no clue as to what Network World covers, never mind the peculiar interests of this particular column. While mildly annoying, it’s an occupational reality that journalists learn to accept, a) because there’s precious little that can be done about it, and b) because you just never know where the next story or column idea is to be found, so discouraging correspondence of any kind carries the risk of missing something good.

Back to Habeas: I remember being slightly taken aback when a public relations representative from the company first asked my permission to send me e-mail. Part of my surprise sprung from the fact that I already had conducted a telephone interview with a Habeas executive, which seemed to me to be a strong signal of my interest. However, what any journalist would have thought went without saying apparently did not in this case.

I was taken aback even further several months later when someone from the same company called and asked if I would be so kind as to reaffirm my permission to be on their press list. . . . Permission granted.

The third time they asked – two weeks ago – I had to ask my own question: Can’t you people take yes for an answer? (I didn’t put it that way at the time but wish I had.)

The Habeas public relations professional, Tim Cox, was kind enough to explain: The latest inquiry was a result of his having recently signed on to represent Habeas and not knowing that his predecessor only recently had done the same thing.

“As far as our policy regarding this . . . well, since we’re in the business of certifying the reputation of e-mailers we do take list management very seriously,” Cox says. “So, when I was handed the ‘opt-in’ list of editors and analysts, I felt it was important to double-check that it was bona fide.”

Sounds all well and good – even noble – but the truth is that Habeas is going an extra couple of miles here on a matter that most vendors don’t even manage baby steps.

Any permission-based e-mail discussion begins with opt-in as the baseline, of course, unless those doing the talking are Washington lawmakers or the Direct Marketing Association.

But let’s not get carried away.

Technology’s next contribution to road rage

Is there any doubt any longer that cell phone manufacturers are going to bring about the end of civilization as we know it?

Last week Samsung announced that it would be foisting a new phone upon the public that is capable of receiving satellite television signals. For the time being, it will work with a satellite service being developed by TU Media in South Korea and Mobile Broadcasting in Japan. How long this gadget will take to jump the pond and land here in the States was not spelled out.

As if peeping camera phones, sappy ring tones and text-messaging services that have millions hooked on “American Idol” aren’t bad enough, now we’re going to enjoy the spectacle of motorists watching their favorite soaps while they zig and zag through traffic.

You cannot have my cell phone number, but the e-mail address is