Oh, this is a nasty one. According to this article, Microsoft sends information about its Hotmail subscribers – email address, city, and state – to InfoSpace, an Internet white pages service. InfoSpace then combines this information with the subscribers’ telephone numbers and home addresses. The result is a user database that spam advertisers use to generate junk mail.

Quoted from the article: “Privacy activists say that this Hotmail practice opens subscribers’ email accounts to annoying mass mailings. But Microsoft denies this claim. ‘We’re clearly stating what this is,’ said MSN Product Manager Sarah Lefko. ‘It’s a consumer benefit.'”

“Consumer benefit.” A grown person actually said that out loud. This is about as boneheaded as anything I’ve seen lately. Microsoft deserves to get soundly beaten up for this. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t turn into a big stink.

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