Direct-mail practice of pet-licensing agency raises privacy concerns.
RECENTLY, some King County residents received a letter from the government reminding them they are required by law to register their pets. The letter was sent to a mailing list generated by a marketing company that gets its information from various sources, including grocery-store loyalty cards.
Wait! The government is contacting people who buy pet food to say they are suspected pet-license scofflaws? What’s next? A letter from the health department noting purchases of ice cream and potato chips?
This practice by Regional Animal Services of King County raises privacy concerns. Yes, the data are readily available to internet marketers tracking clicks online. But that doesn’t mean the government should be using it to track its citizens.
The county says its pet-licensing agency, which has been using direct-mailing lists since 2012, made more than $80,000 in profit from pet-licensing revenue from last year’s letters. Citizen privacy is worth more than $80,000.
No one wants Big Brother to watch his or her grocery list or keep track of every visit to a marijuana or liquor store. This practice should stop.