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From: Alex Schuilenburg <>
To: eCos Maintainers <>
Subject: Re: Commercial postings on ecos-discuss etc
Date: Wed, 03 Mar 2010 00:21:00 -0000	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)

[Apologies for the duplicate - my original got bounced, which has made
jifl's reply out of sequence]

Jonathan Larmour wrote:
> On 02/03/10 17:28, Alex Schuilenburg wrote:
>> On 2010-03-02 13:53, Jonathan Larmour wrote:
>>> On 27/02/10 14:43, Alex Schuilenburg wrote:
>>>> If this is not a commercial post, unfortunately his posting was not
>>>> clear as to the nature, reasoning and backing of this research.
>>> Does it need to be? If it was like some of those spam telephone calls
>>> one can get where they purport to be "doing a survey" (to get around
>>> telemarketing rules) but actually doing advertising/sales, that would be
>>> one thing. But this contains no insidious promotion, marketing or sales.
>>> It's just a request for people to do a straightforward survey.
>> To clarify, I understood the maintainers activities and use of
>> sourceware to be limited to community interest only.  If their use is
>> commercial, it should clearly be noted. IMHO the survey clearly will
>> benefit the commercial organisation behind it, and not necessarily the
>> community, which is my point. If it is not for the benefit of the
>> community and is commercial, and as I was previously told, all such
>> posts should be so highlighted. If, however, posts of this nature are
>> acceptable, then at least I know what the guidance is.
> Lots of posts by people on the ecos lists will benefit companies, rather
> than the community! :-)
Companies are part of the community :-)

>>>> However, if this is a commercial post, then I would like to ask how the
>>>> policy regarding commercial postings has changed. In addition, if John
>>>> is conducting this survey for the benefit of his company, I would like
>>>> to point out to him and you that I believe the survey does not comply
>>>> fully to either the Companies Act 2006 or the Data Protection Act 1998.
>>> That's not an issue for the maintainers.
>> Interesting position.
> We can't know the details of laws in all the potential countries that
> people may be posting from.
> I'm not condoning anything if the law is being broken, but it's not the
> maintainers' job to stop people submitting their own data. And clearly,
> marking something as [COMMERCIAL] would make no difference to legalities.
Actually, it would because then no laws would have been broken.  The
communication would have been clearly marked as coming from a UK limited
company, which would have to have been registered with the ICO, which
would also then have meant that the survey would have had to comply to
UK law and contain all the necessary DPA information and follow the
regulations set up for taking public surveys.

> That being said, I would hope/expect John _is_ complying with the law.
> Handling personal data such as email addresses is certainly regulated by
> the DPA. I don't know about the Companies Act.
>>>> I would also like further clarification regarding netiquette and
>>>> commercial postings on ecos-discuss in this regard.
>>> No mention was made of John's company. There was no advertising, no
>>> promotion, and results were available to those who filled in the survey.
>>> I fully expect John to use the outcome of the survey to guide his
>>> company's actions, but that doesn't make the post commercial IMO.
>> An interesting contradiction.  A posting does not have to contain
>> advertising, sales or anything visible to be commercial in nature.  The
>> survey is clearly of benefit to his company (as you say so yourself),
>> which makes it commercial in nature. Only those who choose to provide
>> their email addresses get "some" of the results, and commercial
>> organisations such as eCosCentric are explicitly excluded from the
>> survey (yet also have an obvious interest in the results of a legitimate
>> survey).
> I thought you were claiming it already wasn't legitimate ;-). Anyone
> _that_ bothered to find out would fill in the survey (albeit possibly
> with bogus data!).
As a UK company, eCosCentric has a legal obligation to ensure that any
marketing information it obtained came from a legitimate source through
legitimate means.

>>  There is also a whole host of other information that can be
>> gathered from the survey, IP addresses, countries of those taking part
>> in the surveys, companies taking part in the survey and their main areas
>> of interest, etc etc which also will not be made available, even to
>> those people taking part in the survey.  This kind of information is
>> invaluable to those in the marketplace, and people pay good money to
>> professional survey organisations such as CMP Media to get this
>> information.  I think you have underestimated what kind of information
>> can be gathered from surveys...
> If the survey does not make crystal clear the purposes the data gathered
> may be used for, and who by, then I believe indeed it would fall foul of
> Data Protection law. But again, the maintainers as a body can't be the
> ones to make judgements about whether posts comply with data protection
> law. I have no reason not to give it the benefit of the doubt. If John
> can assure us that no identifiable information (primarily IP/email
> addresses) is retained or used, then that would seem acceptable to me
> (although I'm deliberately setting aside any legality issues here).
> I very much doubt the maintainers want to go down the route of
> moderating the mailing lists. Or anything which implies we are taking
> responsibility for the content of the lists (there be dragons!).
Nope, I am not asking that. I would just expect the maintainers to be
self policing and to abide by the policies which they expect others to
abide by.

IMHO, eCosCentric and its maintainers get accused of all sorts far too
often, and have until now maintained a dignified silence.

>> And going back to my original point.  As the survey is being conducted
>> by John for the benefit of his company, I would like to know why did he
>> just not say so.
> I assume because the results will be distributed, and therefore not
> proprietary to the company. Those who fill in the survey do "benefit"
> too, so it's not just something for John. Of course that's not carte
> blance to anything, as there are degrees. But from the information I've
> seen so far I have no reason to assume it falls on the wrong side of the
> line. IMHO anyway. But it would seem better to publicise the responses
> on the lists, not just the ones who filled in the survey.
> I am also now seeing your point, from a Data Protection Act POV about
> knowing who (including companies) is using data, if the data is not
> anonymised. But maybe it is anonymised by the time John sees it; maybe
> he has no visibility of the IP addresses, or email addresses. Again from
> a maintainer *policy* point of view, the default position has to be to
> assume things are legitimate.
I would say that by default a posting by a maintainer should definitely
be assumed to be legitimate.

>> Why did he using his personal (and maintainer) email
>> address to solicit responses? Could it be because more people would
>> probably respond to the survey than would if they knew there was a
>> commercial organisation behind it and that this survey was for that
>> company's commercial benefit?  This is what IMHO is an abuse of position
>> and contradicts the guidelines given regarding commercial postings.
> John's response here already says it was personal research.
> Where do we draw the line with "commercial benefit"? Adverts? Research?
> Surveys? Signatures? Email addresses? Indirect references? Mentioning
> the company name anywhere in a post? It is too far to say there must be
> /no/ commercial benefit.
Of course not, lets not get silly. I was suggesting nothing other than
making clear the details of the survey, especially coming from a
respected person such as a maintainer.

>>> I'm afraid I really can't see a problem here.
>> If that is the case, IMHO this kind of sets a precedent as to what is
>> permissible by the other maintainers and commercial organisations, which
>> is contrary to what I previously was led to believe and commercially
>> adhered to.  I obviously am also disappointed that the commercial nature
>> and intent of the survey was not initially stated and not made obvious,
> What guidelines are you thinking of?
> It's true that, looking at there
> /aren't/ any guidelines at present, which is something I should fix.
> Then that may help remove uncertainties, although there will always be
> grey areas.
The guidelines were all given verbally or privately by various
maintainers at various times and regarding various topics.

>> that it is in breach of various UK laws because of its commercial ties,
>> and that this behaviour is IMHO being condoned by the maintainers.
> We can't condone an allegation with insufficient information.
I not sure what you mean.

If you are asking me for information, then what I can say is that any
survey taking place by, for or on behalf of a UK company has to conform
to the DPA.  You can search for companies registered here:

ICO registration of course also does not automatically make the survey
conform to the DPA...

Anyway, I have said my piece, made my point and got the information I
was after...


-- Alex Schuilenburg

Managing Director/CEO                                eCosCentric Limited
Tel:  +44 1223 245571                     Barnwell House, Barnwell Drive
Fax:  +44 1223 248712                             Cambridge, CB5 8UU, UK             Reg in England and Wales, Reg No 4422071

             reply	other threads:[~2010-03-03  0:21 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 9+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2010-03-03  0:21 Alex Schuilenburg [this message]
  -- strict thread matches above, loose matches on Subject: below --
2010-03-03  0:22 Alex Schuilenburg
2010-02-27 14:43 Alex Schuilenburg
2010-02-27 17:15 ` John Dallaway
2010-02-27 21:58   ` Alex Schuilenburg
2010-03-02 13:54 ` Jonathan Larmour
     [not found]   ` <>
2010-03-02 20:10     ` Jonathan Larmour
2010-03-02 21:06       ` Gary Thomas
     [not found]       ` <>
2010-03-02 23:29         ` Jonathan Larmour

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