A victory for all our inboxes

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UNTIL recently I never knew that so many businesses cared so deeply about my privacy.

But it’s true – and I’ve got the emails to prove it. They care so much in fact that they have taken time out of their day to write to me just to let me know.

I’m sure you’re pretty well fed up of hearing about GDPR – the EU’s new legislation that governs the use and storage of personal data – but I’m celebrating.

I’m celebrating because in one fell swoop we have been able to cut ties to all sorts of pesky organisations who have ended up (sometimes unfathomably) in possession of our contact details. And we haven’t had to lift a finger.

Over the past month or so dozens of emails have been tumbling in from all sorts of places, asking us to ‘opt in to remain connected’. Some sounded bizarrely dramatic (‘URGENT ACTION REQUIRED’), while others struck a tone of desperation (‘Please let us stay in touch…’).

My relationship with online businesses has been pretty one-sided. Yes I might have made the initial move by buying something, but since doing so I’ve been fairly well hounded daily via email offers: ‘We thought you might like this shiny new thing…’ ‘Would you like to leave a review?’ ‘All the cool people are buying this – you’re cool, aren’t you?’

The fact that this was all done by email seems to excuse the act’s invasiveness. Imagine the same thing happening by phone.

Ring-ring, ring-ring: ‘Hello?’

‘Hello Mr Chiang, it’s Warren from the corner shop.’

‘Err, hi.’

‘Last week you popped in and bought a disposable barbecue and, as it’s been a week, we thought you might need another. Lovely weather out there – wouldn’t it be great to do some outdoor eating?’

It would be absurd if we accepted that as the norm. But somehow allowing these messages into your virtual mailbox is OK. Yes I could have unsubscribed at an earlier date, but who has time to go through all that?

Right now there are 6,247 unread emails in my account, all of which contain some form or other of targeted advertising. They wash in, get ignored and lie there, stagnating, hoping for a single click of attention.

So praise be to GDPR – a digital cure for a modern problem.

Now, who can I speak to about getting rid of TV adverts as well…

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