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If you've noticed, there's a been a lapse in newsletters over the last week or so. I'm in the middle of revamping both www.overcoming-depression.com and www.CounselingPros.com. Please take a look and give me any feedback on how these sites can be more useful for you.



Warning: this is a Dave Rant. They don't come often, but this one's burning me up and has to come out. Not just out of me, but out to all of you. Many of you know me personally and have worked with me professionally. I rarely have rants. But this one is important, as you'll see.

Today in the mail I received notice, for a third time in three months, that I have no rights to privacy. Of course this company didn't say it like I just did. This is the third American company that's done this. Have you received these deceptive letters too?

Thinly veiled as an empowering letter about my right to choose privacy, and this companies desire to protect it, was a decision on their part to give out my private information before they ever communicated to me. I have received two other letters very much like this one. All three are from top US companies most of us are doing business with right now.

Neatly bundled into this package was a trifold document outlining this company's sworn allegiance to protect the customers right to privacy. But, here's a phrase or two out of the accompanying letter text...

"If we do not receive this letter back from you by February 24th (it's already February 16th) this will serve as consent to disburse information to unaffiliated third parties that may use that information to contact you about their educational or financial products and services. It also serves as consent for 'said company' for sharing non-transactional information about me among 'said company's affiliated companies."

The form is written in such a way that I had to thoroughly read and look over three different paragraphs and check boxes to not have my information shared. But wait, if I had read the first paragraph, checked the box and then hastily assumed I should automatically check all three (wouldn't you... to not waste any more of your precious time?) that would have been a costly mistake. In the third paragraph they reversed the language and if I didn't want them to give out my private information I SHOULDN'T check the last one. Who'd read that far usually? Incredibly clever, eh? So, they give themselves three tries at doing exactly what they want and count on you being lazy.

This company has access to my social security number, my birth date, my credit status, my age, my private telephone numbers, how many children I have and much more.

Additionally, they sent no return envelope or postage to return this form back to them. Do you honestly believe they want to get it back? I believe not.

So, instead of my privacy (AND YOURS TOO!) being an assumed right, I have to TAKE ACTION in order to preserve it. If I don't take action I lose my right to privacy. How did this process get backwards folks?

In the wake of 9/11 our country rationalized several decisions to breach our right to privacy. Of course this was for our own protection. Heck, I even ignored that little scared tickle in my stomach and went along with it too.

However, even with the best of intentions we can often create a monster. It's become quite evident to me, as I've noted above, that top US companies have assumed now that they also have the right to breach our confidentiality. Where does it stop?

Ironically, my wife called this exact company two weeks ago to ask some questions about a loan in my name. They wouldn't talk with her at all. They said it was a privacy violation to do so. But, they'll give out all my information to a complete stranger, business organization? Come on folks, who are we fooling here?

As a business owner, therapist and life coach there's nothing more important than my relationship to my customers. The information you share in confidence is sacred to me, as it should be. Today I feel shaken, not just angry. I'm losing trust that my great country sees clearly how they are abolishing some of our most precious societal values. And, American business culture is following right behind. It's actually quite terrifying.

My eyes are wide-open. I'm not just scared about the erosion of foundational values in our culture, I'm just as concerned and frustrated with you. Yes, we've become a listless, apathetic culture. I'm speaking for myself too when I say this. Even when we get ramped up over something like I have above, we justify that someone else will take up the cause for us and we sit back and take no action. If a potentially powerful majority of our country sits back, waiting for someone else to stand up and do the work, where will we be in 10 years? In 20? What will become of democracy?

You know all the emails requests you get to "pass it along?" In all the years I've been an internet junkie, I've never made a personal request of anyone to do this. Today I am making that request. Please take one single action to preserve personal privacy in our nation. It could be as simple as forwarding this message to everyone in your address book. It could be that you sit in prayer and ask that our leaders realize that in their attempts to protect us, they've made us incredibly vulnerable in many new ways. You could write a letter to your congressman/woman clearly stating your opinion about President Bushes blatant disregard for your privacy.

All I ask is that you take one action and invite one other person to take just one action. This is important folks. Don't close out this email without making a single commitment to stop this insanity. If you don't take action, who will? I'm also aware that many of you who read my newsletter are from out of country. This should scare you more than anyone. If the one country in the world (USA)that's supposed to be a world leader in democracy can do this, what's happening in your country?

I plan on delivering a letter along with the form back to the company I referenced above. Additionally, I will send copies of this rant to all local newspapers in Indianapolis, as well as to everyone I know who has email. Then, I plan to send this letter, tweaked more towards governmental concerns, to our political leaders here and nationally.

The three companies who have sent the letters I've referenced above include Nelnet, SBC/AT&T, and Yahoo.

Each one take one action,

All my best,

Dave Turo-Shields



“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy



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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Written by Dave Turo-Shields, CEC, LCSW, ACSW
President, CounselingPros.com, Kenosis Counseling, Inc.
(c) Copyright 2005 CounselingPros.com, Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana USA 46217