I usually just blog a little here about boring IT support related stuff, but sometimes it’s good to have a bit of a vent. And the target of my ire this week is an outfit called Lead Forensics who have found a new way to annoy everyone. They’ve done their little bit to make the Internet, and life in general that little bit worse.
We’ve gotten used to email spammers, we’ve implemented spam filters. The odd few get through, but a click of delete and they are gone. We generally don’t use fax machines so much these days, so those oh-so clever marketeers that sent you advertisements and used up all your fax paper and ink are but a distant memory. We hang up on pre-recorded calls and bin our junk mail. The stream of new and annoying ways of annoying people at their own expense is endless.
So what do Lead Forensics do?
They build a database ham-fistedly mapping IP addresses to companies. How do they do this? I’m not sure really. They probably use advertising cookies shared across websites and link them to email addresses entered on web forms. They may use reverse DNS lookups on IP addresses, they may see if any mail servers resolve to the same IP. There’s no official designation of fixed or dynamic IP addresses, so if they are being particularly annoying, they are probably phoning you up about what some bloke down the road browsed last week. Or maybe a combination of equally inaccurate methods. To be blunt, I don’t know. And I don’t care. There’s one thing for sure, they didn’t ask you if you wanted to opt-in.
Their salesmen sell it to anyone with a website and a fiver to spare, promising them that they can track who is looking at their website. Cue hundreds of annoying calls from overly enthusiastic script reading teenagers who seem rather reluctant to take ‘bugger off’ as an answer whenever you visit a website ‘enhanced’ by Lead Forensics. This is time we can all spend better by doing our jobs rather than fending off constant persistent sales calls. Is this data accurate? Not if my experience is anything to go by. Your mileage may vary. We get calls from customers who are concerned they have been hacked as someone tells them Lead Forensics tell them they have been looking at their site. Normally when they haven’t. An IP address can host hundred or thousands of people at a company, or even multiple companies, so the hit miss ratio must be pretty poor – though of course plenty of time will be wasted.
So why should we care?
Well, they opted you in without asking you.
Then they used your company resources by calling you uninvited.
They make the Internet that little bit more annoying.
They erode any remaining privacy on the web.
If you work for Lead Forensics, please rethink your career. You will be nothing but a blight on peoples existence for your hopefully short-lived career. Go abroad, travel, discover yourself, take up Yoga, look after stray cats, re-train to do something useful for the human race. Anything but whoring out your dodgy database to persistently annoying salespeople.
And if anyone else is suffering, they of course do not offer an opt out on their web page, but an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your IP address may work. They do at least pretend to be a responsible corporate entity rather than turbo-charged elite spammers you may consider them to be.