by Leonard Richardson
Published on segfault.org 07/12/2000
The Coalition of Advertisers for Responsible Regulation of Online Trade (CARROT) announced today its intention to reform as the Society for Tracking and Incapacitating Consumers (STIC). STIC chair Rick O'Shay cited the renaming as reflecting a much-needed shift in the business models of STIC member companies, many of which have seen their stocks devalued in the recent downturn in dot-com stocks.
"Previously, most STIC members operated under an 'incentive' model, under which consumers were offered goods and services--online calendar services, web-based email, coffee mugs, DSL, money, heroin--in exchange for their personal information," said O'Shay. "However, over the past few months, our working groups have discovered that it's far more lucrative--not to mention more satisfying--to simply beat into submission those who do not comply with our requests."
STIC's initial demands include basic demographic information on every US citizen, with nuclear weapons to be detonated in the five counties with the lowest response rates. The resulting devastation could render up to 9% of the U.S. uninhabitable due to radioactive fallout.
More individual-specific threats are planned, as well. STIC executive member Tony "The Tiger" Tetrazzini today unveiled the society's "reverse compensation" plan, under which consumers who refuse to provide personal information to STIC will recieve punishment in proportion. "Compensation" items range from soaped-up house windows for failure to provide car odometer readings, to severe beatings for email address and "cement overshoes" for date of birth.
"You no establish date of birth, we establish date of death," said Tetrazzini. "Capiche?"
"Of course, consumers will be able to 'opt-out' of all beatings and personal mishap," says O'Shay, "so it's really a completely voluntary system. We've gone to great lengths to accommodate that small but vocal minority of the American public which wants both personal privacy and freedom from grevious bodily harm."
However, critics allege that the STIC opt-out provisions unfairly exclude those without access to electron microscopes and sophisticated atom-manipulation technology (required to read and initial the 22,506 lines of the pinhead-sized STIC opt-out contract). An Internet-based opt-out system is in place, but connecting to it requires STIC's specialized client software, dubbed CATCH (Consumer Access To Collection Halt). Version 2.2 of CATCH, required to connect to STIC's opt-out system, is licensed under conditions forbidding its use for connection to STIC's opt-out system. STIC spokesman Carney Asada denies that this poses any problem to consumers.
"You can opt out of any conditions of the CATCH 2.2 licensing agreement you feel are restrictive via the online opt-out system, accessible right from your CATCH console," says Asada. "I've done it myself, and feel confident that I can settle out of court with my employer as regards the resulting breach of contract suit."
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