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Internet Brothers: Helpware for the Cybercommunity - Interviews with the Masters

Interview with Wally Gross - Part 6


[Internet Brothers] What is your take on Internet privacy issues? For example, the firestorm currently engulfing DoubleClick. Privacy advocates had long feared that DoubleClick would correlate its online database with Abacus Direct's offline consumer profiles following their acquisition. At first, they said they wouldn't link the information, but the policy statement was quietly revised after the deal.

Avarice & Greed [Wally Gross] A few years back when I saw one of the head honchos from a well known site admit they sell e-mail addresses, I almost crawled into the TV set to wring out his greedy little neck.

Few things upset me, but avarice really pisses me off, and why shouldn't it. The Internet has been a powerful teacher and eye-opener for me. I can spot a phony in an instant. There are some great stories here, but for now I'll save them for another event.

I don't believe a person's privacy should ever be compromised. But then again who am I anyway? It seems that in spite of my vehement protests, there is a segment of our population that simply must know. The "Inquiring Minds" syndrome. Some people simply get off on hearing this stuff, even if it is all lies, and just can't manage to get through a day without their Whisper 2000.

When Web sites participate in this type of less than salubrious activity, it is truly a sad situation. It isn't possible to surf the Web without cookies; they are necessary for some essential activities. All we can do is hope that responsibility is the norm and anything less is an aberration.

I'm not paranoid about my privacy, but I am with respect to another form of invasion — viruses. I have been victimized a few times and find this activity most disturbing. A firewall and virus software are installed on all my computers.

Home invasion Spam is the most annoying form of compromising privacy I can imagine. I spend hours and hours each week deleting unwanted crap from my mail box and setting up filters. This activity should be outlawed, I mean that. There are those who would consider this opinion some kind of a compromise of our rights to freedom. However, last time I looked, home invasions were against the law; I hope next time I look, spammers will get equal treatment, for what they do is just another form of home invasion. Perhaps less threatening and dangerous, but nonetheless an invasion.

With respect to the Abacus-DoubleClick merger, I really don't want to venture too far into it. I'm not fully updated, and as we all know opinions are like one of these ( | ), we all have one and I don't want to expose or judge without reason or proof.

I have some thoughts about why a high profile company like DoubleClick would align with a company that leads the field in sending spam, but I think you can imagine just as well as I can. If you have more inside stuff on this, then more power to you.

Suppose Entertainment Tonight suddenly merged with the National Enquirer. Why would they even think it? What would your reaction be? Well, banner clickthru rates are well below 1% and advertisers aren't taking the bait much longer. What silly things money has motivated some to do isn't anything new, but it happens everyday. It's just a thought. I really don't know anything for sure and that means I leave it alone.

[IB] Wally, is that you who's been instigating the Distributed Denial of Service attacks against the largest corporate and government web sites recently?

[WG] What? And lose my dental plan and pension benefits. Not on your life.


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Conclusion Wally Gross Interview

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"A few years back when I saw one of the head honchos from a well known site admit they sell e-mail addresses, I almost crawled into the TV set to wring out his greedy little neck."

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