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An Open Letter to The Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce

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Dear Chamber,

On June 9th, 2011 I received a letter from the Chambers Executive Director stating Chamber members may have received an email from HotBuys Canada.

I replied to the email with a similar writeup to the below but did not hear back from the Chamber.

The email went on to state:

This email was not sent from, or authorized by, the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber does not share or sell its membership database with any outside party.

It goes on further to say:
Please accept our apologies and be assured that the Chamber treats your privacy very seriously.

Well, the truth of the matter is, the Chamber says they take this matter very seriously. But technically, they don't. Which makes me question if they do or do not.

Our Chamber provides everyone free access to a membership database. Within this database, they provide access to every ones business name and contact information. Including email addresses. You can see my listing below:

As you can see, you can see my business name, mailing address, phone number and email address. How can our chamber say they do not share or sell its membership database and yet it is free for everyone to see? I'm not sure, but obviously, you can see they do.

Now some may say, yes okay, your email address is listed on the website. Well, I am personally not worried about my own because I am using a special email address which I give to the chamber to track spam and where spam comes from. In this sense, if I all of a sudden start receiving a lot of spam to my email address above, I can make the emails going there, stop coming to my email. It's really simple.

But what about all your members email addresses? Well, after spending 15 minutes, I can tell the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce database has 823 unique email addresses inside it.

In 15 minutes, I compiled a list of 823 email addresses of Charlottetown based business people. Does that match the amount of members the chamber has? Probably not. I assume that a few people within the database have 2 or 3 accounts and those would not have been counted 2 or 3 times.

So, how easy is it for a spammer to do the same thing? Just as easy. And that's 823 email addresses they can sell off or spam.

How can our chamber take this matter seriously and tell people that they do not share members contact information? I'm not sure. Anyone with technical abilities could have told you this. So, I assume they just said it without actually looking into it.

So what's the best way to list email addresses so spammers can't spam people?

Well, our provincial government uses images to display email addresses however this is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

When I setup the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce website a while back, I set it up so people can use the contact forms and it would not display email addresses.

If you look at big companies like Microsoft, you'll be hard pressed to find someones actual Microsoft email address. Same goes with Google.

John Morris
P.S. The database I compiled of all 823 email addresses is not for sale.
P.S.S. No you can not hire me to build this database for you and give you the email addresses.

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