The National Consumer Commission are asking us, the citizens of South Africa, to tell them if we think it is good idea to appoint the Direct Marketing Association as the custodians of the "opt-out" database that is planned as a result of the Consumer Protection Act coming into being.
They actually have to ask that question?
OK, so while we're at it, why not ask if it isn't a great idea to get the inmates to run the asylum?!
Seriously?! Here we have an organization that exists to look after the interests of the folk behind the commercial offers you receive by email, SMS and phone. And the NCC wants them to look after our personal information.
I’m not going to go on a long rant about them - Ivo Vegter, a far more erudite writer than I, has written an informative piece on ITWeb. Give it a read. Any outfit that has not worked out that circulating the actual data rather than hashes of the data is a really stupid idea, and allows our personal data into the wrong hands, should not be allowed anywhere near the opt-out database.
Then of course there’s the DMA’s pathetic response to my lodging a complaint against 8.ta for calling me twice in two days when a) my number is on the DMA’s existing “do not call” list and b) they happily claim to be DMA members when I challenge them. The woman from the DMA tells me that it is not sufficient that I supply the time of the call, the CLI, the name of the call centre, and the first names of the telemarketer and his supervisor; she is not prepared to do anything unless I can give her the surnames of both. I’m surprised she did not want me to supply ID numbers as well!
An amusing ridiculous side-plot to all of this that played out today was the farce surrounding the poll on the DMA’s website. They posted a poll asking if the visitors to their website thought it was a good idea for them to run the opt-out database. Ivo Vegter mentioned this on Twitter mid-morning. The fact was repeated on Twitter and at least one IT mailing list.
The survey, when I first viewed it late morning, was sitting at 70% of visitors thinking it was indeed a good idea to set the fox to guard the henhouse! By 14h00 that figure had sunk to 4%. It was patently obvious that the DMA in their diligence had forgotten to ensure only one vote per person. I mean it is not as if they tend to be careful about data protection is it?
Some one obviously woke up to that fact that the poll was not going their way at all as by 18h09 49% of visitors supposedly supported the DMA to run the database. By 18h46 an entirely new poll had appeared in its place and the final results indicated that in fact 87% of people had voted “Yes”. Wonderful! Now they can publish that and we can all rest easy that the matter is settled.
Of course, you have until the end of tomorrow to let the NCC know what you really feel about the matter. What they’ll do with your email, who knows - maybe it will get nuked by their spam filters, but hey, give it go - just maybe there’s someone with integrity, competence and wisdom in that outfit. E-mail the National Commissioner of the National Consumer Commission, care of Prudence Moilwa, at firstname.lastname@example.org (quoting reference number NCC/EOI/0003), and tell the bureaucrats all of this. You have until tomorrow, 29 July, to stop this farce from becoming law.
Email her now! Go! Go! Go!
This URL provides a detailed history of the poll until the DMA supposedly took it down.
The screenshots below tell a similarly interesting tale.