[unisog] off topic: mass emailing

Alan Amesbury amesbury at oitsec.umn.edu
Thu Sep 23 23:57:23 GMT 2010

Rick Hayter wrote:

> Has anyone found a way to handle these kinds of requests? I can't
> always say no (sometimes it comes from a VP or the Pres), but because
> it's happening more often it's starting to impact our productivity -
> someone has to be pulled off of another project to interface with the
> requestor, find out what they need, generate an email list, etc.

You mean they don't just use Google Wave, the Web 2.0 app where 
everyone's a contributor?  Hey, the subject *said* it was off topic..... 

More seriously, perhaps, is the idea that once an institution's dumped 
its responsibilities for e-mail onto Google or some similar external 
entity, it will become very easy for that entity to e-mail subsets of 
your population (up to and including the entire population).  This means 
they can not only bulk-mail your users in ways that it's guaranteed to 
reach their official accounts, but they'll be able to ensure that others 
who've paid for the privilege can also have their messages delivered en 

In addition, the service provider will be able to mine that account 
information for marketing purposes (unless your agreement prohibits it, 
perhaps), "zeitgeist" trend analysis, etc.  Seems a waste that all that 
information, which likely has *some* value, is just being given away by 
higher ed.  I mean, if someone's going to use it, why not us?

Alan Amesbury
OIT Security and Assurance
University of Minnesota

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