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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lake Herman Sanitary District Dodges Bullet on Constituent Info Sales

The Sioux Falls School District has gotten itself into hot water over selling the addresses of its constituents. And indeed, I must agree with Sioux Falls parent Shannon Barnes:

They tell them, you know, 'Don't post your personal information on Facebook. Don't post your personal information on MySpace. Don't give out your address. Don't even give out what school you go to,' And yet, they are selling these names and addresses [Shannon Barnes, quoted in "Complaint Alleges Names Could Fall into Wrong Hands," KSFY.com, 2009.08.25].

As Lake Herman Sanitary District president, I received a call earlier this summer from a salesman for a local retailer who asked if we would give him our address list so they could do some direct mail advertising. As noted in our minutes from last week's meeting, I declined to hand out that list. (At least Lawrence and I can agree on something! ;-) )

Of course, I hear the Lake Madison Sanitary District will sell you a copy of their address list for a reasonable fee. Porbably a good deal. Besides, Lake Madison folks spend more money, anyway—much better targets for an ad campaign.

I'm also happy to note that my current employer, Dakota State University, does not sell its student lists to commercial interests or anyone else. Heck, we aren't even printing a paper directory this year.


  1. I completely agree with you, Cory (don't faint!!!). I don't think a school has any business selling names/addresses of students or parents. In this day and age when we don't know where this information will end up, what in the world is an institution thinking who is supposed to be looking out for the safety of its students? I could not believe this when I first heard it.

    Linda M

  2. No fainting here, Linda: I at no point presume that you and I will disagree on everything. I had an interesting conversation with a conservative reader yesterday who said that he and I probably agree on much more than we disagree... and I agreed with him. It's quite likely that a lot of the stuff we agree on, I just never bother to blog about. Maybe I'm as bad as the mainstream media, focusing on the 10% of things we disagree on, since disagreements make for more interesting conversation.

    On the lake: our residents are probably less endangered by a release of address information than school kids, and I suspect kids are still profoundly more endangered when they drive around on Friday night than when some organization buys their address. Nonetheless, I vote for privacy here: it's not government's job to do the research for businesses (and I thought businesses didn't need government help to succeed in a capitalist society?).


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