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July 25, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:23pm


By CBR Staff Writer

A lot of adverse publicity can be generated in 24 hours if you try hard enough, as America Online Inc found out yesterday. It has reversed its earlier decision to divulge the telephone numbers of its subscribers to partners for the purposes of telemarketing. AOL claimed yesterday that it never intended to sell the numbers for that purpose; rather it intended to make the numbers available to a limited number of quality-controlled AOL partners, which to most subscribers probably means the same thing. According to Reuters, minutes before the decision was announced the company was put under pressure by a special adviser to President Clinton, Leslie Byrne, who advises the president on consumer affairs matters. She said she would ditch AOL as her internet gateway, but perhaps more importantly, her office is in the process of reviewing consumer surveys about privacy on the internet. AOL does, however sell subscribers’ e-mail addresses to telemarketing companies, and is not alone in that.

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