When an Option to Unsubscribe is really a F*ck You. (The Loot Company)

Recently, it looks like The Loot Company has taken over what used to be Loot Crate – I had purchased a crate long ago as a gift. As part of the takeover, they sent me this email highlighting that I could have my personal information removed from the database moving forward:

Loot Company.png

Sounds good right? Here’s where it falls apart:

1) I had to screenshot the email because I could not copy the text.

2) It seems logical that I could click the opt-out email address shown as a link to opt out. That area of the email is clickable but it just sends you to the website. That means you have to remember that email address and type it in manually (because you cannot copy the text) in a new email.

3) They are vague in the information you have to send for the opt-out. Any normal customer database only needs email as a unique identifier, yet they imply you may need to send more – this is an excuse to say they couldn’t remove your information later and blame it on you for not sending enough information. I’m supposed to know how their database works?

4) The most logical way to unsubscribe is to simply use the unsubscribe link at the very bottom of the email, but that unsubscribe turns out to be completely unrelated to this one.

I ended up emailing them, but it went to their support ticketing system – they could have easily set up an auto-unsubscribe process (remove any email address sending to that designated email address). I now have to wait a few days to see if they could figure out how to remove me.

Lawyers Cathy Hershcopf and Sarah Carnes at Cooley LLP claim they “totally respect your privacy so the decision is yours.” Lawyers are very precise in their work. Thus, while “totally” is perfectly fine when I’m emphasizing something to my friends, Cathy and Sarah are not my friends. Imagine a doctor telling you “it’s totally safe to operate.” It is safe or it is not. You respect my privacy or you do not.

The decision is mine, yet only if I can somehow get them the message (that they’ve made as hard as possible to do – physical letter? come on here! They use a digital communication tool to tell me to use a physical one in response. Insane.) I want out in the next 10 days. They ask you to send as much information as possible so they can find a way to remove you from the database. This is their respect for your privacy.

To the lawyers at Cooley LLP and The Loot Company – I hope when your personal information gets leaked through hack or privacy breach, and you wonder why those companies did not remove or protect your information better, you can look back at your own examples at where you “totally” respected others’ privacy.

(Update: As of one week later, October 17th, no confirmation that my information has been removed.)

(Update: As of one month later, November 12th, no confirmation that my information has been removed. I followed up with LootCrate over email and the social media accounts of both the law firm and LootCrate.)

The Easy Guide to Privacy Protection and Ad Blocking

Image from: https://www.darkcoinfoundation.org/

I have talked about Ad Blocking and the future of advertising in the past. But if you are tired of being tracked and want to stop all those crazy auto-playing video ads, pop-under ads, and just do not feel right with companies understanding what you are doing in aggregate, what can you do about it?

Here is a quick guide that will help you shield yourself on your laptop / PC.

1) Use an Ad Blocker for your Internet Browser: AdBlock Plus

2) Use a Popunder Blocker: Poper Blocker

3) Opt out of Behavior Tracking: DIGITAL ADVERTISING ALLIANCE (DAA) SELF-REGULATORY PROGRAM

4) Use Spyware safety programs: I like Spyware Blaster and Spybot and use both.

5) Use a good Antivirus: I really love Avast’s Free Antivirus and run it in Silent Gaming Mode so it never bothers me.

6) Look into your browser settings: for example, with Google Chrome, type chrome://settings/ for the browser location, click “Show advanced settings” at the bottom, and check your Privacy settings. In particular, you might want to follow all of my settings, though there has been recent news about whether the FCC will force companies to honor the “Do Not Track” setting.

Privacy

7) More Privacy Protection: use Privacy Badger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

8) Manage your Google Settings: Go into your Dashboard and Activity Controls and go through your settings carefully to make sure you know what they do. By the way, if you click on those links and wonder how come you were logged in directly, this is not because I know your account information. It is because you are already logged into Google.

The steps above will be a great start to becoming more safe in your PC usage. An additional step you can take is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) such as Private Internet Access, which will help you from having your internet traffic being snooped on.

If you have any tips, I would love to hear them and add them to this article, so do leave a comment below!