STOP PRESS - MailChump - give a monkey's

stop

This is the original notice posted
Saturday 4 February 2012

[THIS NOTICE IS ABOUT WIRES NORTH WEST BRANCH USING AN EMAIL MARKETING TOOL CALLED MAILCHIMP TO SEND NEWSLETTERS TO ITS MEMBERS - THESE CONTAIN HIDDEN CODE THAT IDENTIFIES AND TRACKS INDIVIDUALS]

It has been pointed out to us by IT minds out there that you should be careful accessing links via the WIRES North West Branch newsletter. The newsletter is sent as an email, but not just any email...

It uses a facility called "MailChimp". Every time it is opened, and every link in the newsetter that is clicked, is recorded or "tracked".

For example:


Link displayed on screen is -  northwest.wires.org.au

Code behind link (where it really goes!) is -
"http://wires.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=identifying info - we removed it]..."


MailChimp explains this feature on its own site:

How it all works

Go to topGo straight to commentsAdd a commentWhenever someone double-opts-in to your list, or opens or clicks from inside your email newsletter, they get redirected through our servers (which is how we track opens and clicks for you). As your subscribers pass through, one very common piece of information that comes with them is their IP address given to them by their ISP. We basically do a reverse lookup to find out the general region they’re in, so that you can use that information to send localized, targeted information.

Until it is made clear to the readers just what information is collected, and in what detail, we are advised to warn you not to engage with this publicaton.


This is the update at 2:40am
Sunday 5 February 2012

WARNING TO WIRES NORTH WEST BRANCH MEMBERS
- Stalin is alive and living just off Bungarribee Road -

[THIS IS A FURTHER NOTICE ABOUT WIRES NORTH WEST BRANCH USING AN EMAIL MARKETING TOOL CALLED MAILCHIMP TO SEND NEWSLETTERS TO ITS MEMBERS - THESE CONTAIN HIDDEN CODE THAT IDENTIFIES AND TRACKS INDIVIDUALS]

We have been informed by our IT people that every single newsletter sent by North West Branch in January is uniquely encoded to identify the member to which it was originally addressed. If you were the original recipient of one of these newsletters and you then sent it on to another person, you could be a target for recriminations.

 If you used the "forward to a friend" feature at the bottom of the newsletter, NWB will know you passed it on. Should the person to which it was forwarded open the email, click on any links, use the "forward to a friend" feature, or try to "unsubscribe" then WIRES North West Branch will know that - each action is tracked.

We would like to know what WIRES NWB intends to do to the hapless victims (read paid volunteer members)? Are there gulags in Doonside?

Things WIRES NWB should consider: At the bottom of each of these Chimp mails is an invitation to the reader to "forward to a friend" - NWB is encouraging the reader to pass the message along, using an emailing system designed for that specific purpose. Do they then intend to punish that person? They need to learn a bit of French: Agents provocateurs - that could be seen as entrapment in some circles (I think they're called courts)!

In this context, the really tasteless feature of the newsletter is the following segment on the WIRES Code of Conduct:

Did you know that WIRES has a Code of Conduct? It's available on the WIRES website (Policy 2.1), and it described (sic) the standards of behaviour expected of WIRES members. Each month we'll highlight one of the standards in the Code. This month:

2.1.1 All WIRES members are required to behave honestly and with integrity in the course of all WIRES activities.

Honesty means telling the truth; integrity means behaving in a way that's consistent with your personal principles, beliefs and values. In WIRES we work as a team, and we need to be able to trust each other.

Honesty might also include not placing tracking computer-code in a member's emails without telling them. Trust might include not encouraging someone to do something, like forward an email, when doing such an act is going to be punished by you. Integrity... truth... What personal principles does this behaviour demonstrate?


 This is the update at 12:00pm
Sunday 5 February 2012

WIRES HEAD OFFICE HAS BEEN TRACKING YOU FOR AGES

[THIS NOTICE IS ABOUT WIRES HEAD OFFICE USING AN EMAIL MARKETING TOOL CALLED VERTICAL-RESPONSE TO SEND "enews" TO ITS MEMBERS - THESE CONTAIN HIDDEN CODE THAT IDENTIFIES AND TRACKS INDIVIDUALS]

It doesn't take long for the information to start flooding in here at reformWIRES Administration Office (formerly "the lair"). We have been contacted by someone this morning who pointed out to us that WIRES Head Office has been tracking members since at least 2009.

 Today, I am told, all WIRES members received an e-newsletter from WIRES. If you check you will note that this facility is provided through a company called "Vertical Response" - http://www.verticalresponse.com - and just like Mailchimp they monitor those emails that are sent out.

From their website:

Examine Reports - VerticalResponse tracks who opened your emails, clicked on links, bounced back as undeliverable or unsubscribed from your list for every email you send out. We also make available more advanced (and free) tracking options such as our Google Analytics Integration.

Each one of those emails is individually numbered and is tracked: If you open the email, click on any of the links, etc. it is recorded against your name. All the links go via the Vertical Response website where your activity is logged. In the latest issue you will find a link to the van drivers job - click on that link and they will know you looked at it.

Pass the email on and they will know it because every email is coded to a single individual - WIRES will know you sent it on. Right mouse click any of the links and select "properties" (if you're using explorer) - all the links start "http://cts.vresp.com/c/?..." - this code sends you through the Vertical Response computers (vresp) first to log your activity, then you are allowed to see the content you requested.

These sort of marketing tools are legitimate business practices and reasonable in many circumstances: For marketing to customers, not for sending out information to members. Is it the case that members are now to be monitored by the employees? In most cases where these systems are used a person must "opt-in" to receive these communications, but with WIRES the membership list is simply loaded on to the Vertical Response website without your knowledge. What would happen if you did "unsubscribe"? Would WIRES allow that? Why don't you try it and find out?

Other questions are: Why does WIRES need to track its members anyway? Could they send these emails without the invasive monitoring? What details are they collecting exactly and why? Some members have already expressed some concern about this and feel that their privacy is being invaded.

We want to assure our readers at reformWIRES that we do not track you in any way. Please be assured that any standard email you send to us, and every comment, is 100% secure and is treated with respect for your privacy. We have been going at this a few months now and we have stuck to our charter of protecting your privacy because we respect your privacy.

For those who would like to look at the van driver’s job description without it being recorded - click here (not the greatest copy but legible)


This is the update at 2:30pm
Monday 6 February 2012

HOW TO HELP PREVENT BEING TRACKED

[THIS NOTICE IS ABOUT WIRES HEAD OFFICE AND WIRES NORTH WEST BRANCH USING EMAIL MARKETING TOOLS CONTAINING HIDDEN CODE THAT IDENTIFIES AND TRACKS INDIVIDUALS - SOME ADVICE ON HELPING PREVENT BEING TRACKED IS GIVEN]

Some of you have requested information and advice on how to prevent being tracked by the marketing emails WIRES head office and some branches are sending to you.

First off, you must understand that the photos and other media in these emails are not actually contained inside the emails sent to you. The photos etc. are on the tracking website's computer. As soon as you open one of these emails from WIRES your email client (Outlook, etc.) is told to go to the tracking website and download the image. That request is sent with your unique ID, so immediately they know you have opened it. Basically, if you can see the images, you have already been tracked.

You can turn off automatic download of pictures in your email client (Outlook etc.) - that will give you a chance to look at the email first. Just remember, if you or anyone else clicks on any links in these emails at any time, it will track you. You can look here [about.com] for more information, and here [microsoft.com] for instructions.

The thing that is most distressing about this conduct is that you were not asked in advance to "opt-in" to receiving these emails. The best advice received to stop being tracked, the most protective, is to "unsubscribe" from these emails immediately. At the bottom of these emails there is an "unsubscribe" link, click it and it will (should) remove you from their list. If they send it to you again it is because they put you back on the list. That would be very poor practice and possibly be considered as "spamming" because you have specifically asked to be removed and they would have ignored your request.

Comments  

 
Koala
# RE: STOP PRESS - MailChump - give a monkey'sKoala 2012-02-15 18:54
I love reformwires It make my day!!!!
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-11 23:24
Never thought about it before but isn’t any site that remembers you when you login using trackers? Even this one? Since we don’t know who spartcus is how do we know to trust were not being tracked and all about us known wnenever we come here? Or anywhere else that remembers you?
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-12 02:01
WRONG! Did you read the article?

WIRES sends out emails with misleading links in them designed to track the individual.

The code WIRES uses is is not a normal weblink - it is the sort of thing that spammers and phishers do; but in this case it is legal. This is deliberately designed to track individuals (IT HAS IN IT AN INDIVIDUAL REFERENCE NUMBER IDENTIFYING YOU).

Check this entire site - check every single line of code - every email - you won’t find anything like it and I DO resent the inference you have made on this occasion - I’d never sink so low!

All websites record IP addresses: You can quite easily and legally mask these to protect your privacy. You cannot avoid being logged with the type of tracking code WIRES’ embeds in its emails. rW clears its cache regularly - we erase the visitor data.

So thanks once again for the straw man confusion Guest - I hope the board of WIRES are paying you for all this time you spend causing doubt.
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-12 08:05
You say you clear it but since we don’t know you how do we know to trust? Or anyone else? Also I don’t like being tracked by anybody but if it is a legal marketig tool then knowing who peple are and what they want and look at is a legal way to know what to deliver. I am not with the board at all in any way and if this site is truly about debats then you don’t need just yes men when you say things. Thats not analysis. Theres been times I agree like about euthansing ferals and say so but lots of times I think you are being as one sided as you accuse other poeple of being.
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-15 17:33
Thanks for your valuable feedback. You might like being tracked by the staff of a group of which you are a member but I doubt you’re in the majority and many would like to know why they are doing it and why they weren’t asked.
There are stories getting around that WIRES is in fact trying to find out who is posting to this website. That might be one reason to track people. It would not be the first time they have clamped down on dissent.
The point of this site is to remain anonymous. I don’t know who you are, or anyone else who posts here for that matter. You don’t know me and don’t need to. You see here you will not be judged for who you are, only for what you say and the reasons you say it.
You are being very silly frankly and I won’t respond to you again. I’ll let everyone else be the judge.
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-13 08:02
More looking but not at that newsletter so don’t know if I got it right. The vertical thingy was in the christmas card order form that went to secretaries and all sorts of poeple. A legal tool in a legal market stratgy. Even if you dont like it which I dont theres lots of things I dont like and lots of places you get tracked. As far as I know theres nothing wrong with forwarding newsleters. If a newsleter had the christmas card order form in it the tracker would go out with no plot or sinister meaning. Just bad maners but no more for Wires than anybody elase using trackers for marketing and no big horrible malice by anyone on purpose. As I said before I got no connections to the board but I try to think and one of the things I think is that poeple should remember Orwells “Animal Farm” where the animals got rid of one lot in power then became just as bad themselves.
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-13 08:58
Deliberately obtuse and overtly apologetic (for the board, but not for me!)
You even misunderstood animal farm too. It was about Communism and the corruption that comes from giving away personal power and self-determination. Power corrupts - simple. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” - WIRES Board always claims to be just ordinary members yet the rules don’t seem to apply to them. It would seem “All members are ordinary, but Board members are more ordinary than others”
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-13 10:38
So when the ordinary/more ordinary members are thrown out and more ordinary members take over they will become more ordinary and the pwer will corrupt them?
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-13 12:04
Wnen you censor things and identify a branch and a street that a member lives in are you being defamtory and puting someone at risk of harm insited by this site and your statements. How close to criminal is this? Do your legal poeple have advice? Doesnt anonymity and rite of reply go for everyone? If youre naming names from behind anonmity how fair is that?
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-15 18:34
I have addressed all this.
Bill has his photo all over the net next to his name ( do a Google search). Not exactly hiding under a bushel. He is in the public eye by his own design.
It is not defamatory what we have said and it is not incitement to any illegal activity. It is not criminal or even close. Yes, we have legal advice and yes, I agree with it.
How fair is it? I don’t run the biggest wildlife rescue organisation in NSW and I don’t want to. I don’t put myself in local papers or entertain, covet or accept public awards. I don’t come in for much criticism except from you. And I am going such a long way to stop you aren’t I? I could remove all your posts right now - but I don’t and I won’t, because if I dish it out, I have to cop it sweet too. That doesn’t mean I won’t correct you when you are wrong - this website is a journal of record (if a cheeky one).
Spartacus.
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-15 18:45
One last point: When has this site identified a person’s home address? Their street? When exactly? Saying this site does illegal things when it does not could be defamatory? I know a good lawyer if you need one.
If you make false claims about this site I will defend it. If you make false claims about others I will defend them - that includes members of the WIRES board...
In fact, the reason for most of the editing we do is to remove false accusations and defamatory statements from comments. It is not fair to publish untrue things and we don’t publish untrue things. Period.
Except when they criticize us... we love it!
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-13 20:18
[A minor edit to protect WIRES from defamation, S.]
So censrship is in? You can talk about personalities and awards naming poeple and putting them at risk by giving anybody on the internet links to their names and where they live even though you talk issues not persnalities. You can make a bad call about using order forms and trackers in one newlseter and on a site that is about marketing sound like a major terorist conspracy. (Did you know it is alleged membes were sabotagning records of others they didn’t like and they had to track that to stop it?) You can let pwer go to your head after only a few weeks. You can invite feedback but censor and belitle it when it is not sucking up to what you want to hear? Not so bad when all is anonymous, but naming when you hide in anonymty is NOT FAIR. I saw the rise of this board and it were reformers who realy wanted the best for animals. Sometimes they went off the rails and bits I agree with you but I seen coordinators and committees bullied by joey hugging feral raising rescue remedy applying carer nutters too. Get rid of a not perfect (somtimes bloody stupid with things like not acdcepting branch votes) but hard working and sincere board and committee and after this comes the deluge. Im sorry about my english. You try expressing in a foren langauge. This site is helping destabilise poeple so that building and ordnary change and day to day work is being more difficult. What power do you want and what will you do with it?
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-15 18:21
Guest,
Gosford City Council posted his name on the internet (where do you think we got it from?) The link is here:
http://www.gosford.nsw.gov.au/news_events/media/media-releases-2012/january-2012/2012-australia-day-community-award-winners
Tell them! I think it would be part of the terms of acceptance that his award be publicized. And it was in the Central Coast Express-Advocate here:
http://digitaledition.expressadvocate.com.au/default.aspx?iid=58674#folio=015
No I didn’t know that! But thanks for the heads-up. Just goes to show that database is a mess. Professional organisations don’t need to track people through emails to keep their data secure. Wow! That’s a shocker of a story - could you send me some proof so I can publish it?
Hm Hm - nearly 6 months actually. It hasn’t gone to my head. And we’ve been through this censorship thing before, you and me (you will just keep saying it without a modicum of proof) - Prove it! I have given you the stats for each and every refusal to print and the reasons (some of them were even my own posts). If a comment is edited the contributor is asked first and we make it clear it was done. You really need to stop making claims you can’t support. As for belittling you... I’ll let others judge.
I don’t want power - you don’t get that I know. If I wanted power... I want change. I want to see every good person judged for their good deeds and the less so similarly judged. I want a fair system where others are not subject to the whims of the mediocre. I want the people who look after native wildlife to come first - not for who they are but for what they do. The only way to help wildlife, that has no chance, is to back up to the hilt those who defend them whether you like them or not. That’s what I want and I don’t care how it happens because that is what our wildlife deserves. Once that is done I will disappear into obscurity from where I did come.
And what is it you want? And what will you do with it?
Spartacus.
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Guest
# RE: STOP PRESS - MailChump - give a monkey'sGuest 2012-02-05 22:59
Its getting realy confusing. Which Wires are we talking about? HO, the board, branches, single members? Who id what?
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Magnum P.I.
# Magnum P.I. 2012-02-06 14:24
Like a bridge over muddy waters...I always can tell when a story is particularly embarrassing to WIRES because “Guest” will be straight away posting odd side-issue comments to distort and confuse, deliberately missing the point some might say. No sorry Guest, fake it all you like this is just obvious bad behaviour.
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guest
# guest 2012-02-05 22:03
This appears to be quite a sinister activity. It may be legal to use as a marketing tool but is it legal to use without members knowledge simply to spy on them, their associations and their activities? Some legal advice would be good here.
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guest
# guest 2012-02-05 14:21
Wow, a job in WIRES being advertised and all members being notified and given the opportunity to apply. That is a very big improvement in transparency and fairness. First time I have ever seen this happen. Hope there is also an open and transparent selection process. Well done to whoever is responsible.
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-05 20:35
You’re welcome. Logie? Anybody?
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guest
# guest 2012-02-05 22:01
Congratulations Spartacus
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an eagle
# an eagle 2012-02-05 11:23
It would be appalling if management was using this marketing device to spy on its members and intrude into their privacy to identify them as whistleblowers.
If it was phone tapping without a warrant it would be illegal.
There are members obviously concerned at what they see to be failings in management, governance and animal care issues making comments on this site and presumably providing Spartacus with information. Even Stan Wood, the previous Chair of WIRES has made a comment and it looks to me as though other Board members or people close to them have also made contributions to the debate so it can’t be a WIRES sin to use the site.
So if whistleblowers are being identified by management, what does managment propose to do with this? Breach the member’s privacy and disclose to others that they have made communications to Spartacus or to the reformwires site? Attempt to take action under the Code of Conduct?
It is my view that members endeavouring to improve and reform their organisation by exposing failures and seeking help are the ones doing the right thing. They are refusing to be part of a mentality to keep problems secret and to ignore them, which can only impact badly on the wellbeing of the members and the quality of care given to the animals. I can’t see how actions being taken by members with such good intentions can be used against them under the code of conduct.
I suggest that any member who has been identified as providing truthful information to this site with the intention that it be used to reform WIRES and its practices, and is being bullied, victimised or threatened by anyone as a result, seeks urgent legal advice to ensure that they are protected. WIRES now has a policy against this sort of behaviour.
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Someone
# COMMENT_TITLE_RE STOP PRESS - MailChump - give a monkey'sSomeone 2012-02-05 05:55
This is WIRES through and through from my experience.
What you are saying here is that WIRES sent out newsletters with tracking links in them but also encouraged the recipients to forward the email. Of course if you forward the email you’ll probably get disciplined under the code of practice. Not once do they disclose any of this to the members. Some secret little game - setting no-win traps for everyone. How unethical and nasty is that?
So now you can’t even open an email from WIRES without pausing to wonder if they are spying on you. I’ll say it again because it just keeps being proved right: "You can’t be too paranoid in WIRES".
It was Lily Tomlin who said: "No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up". I know how she feels, I really do. What an awful organisation - I’m so bloody glad to be out of it. Why would anyone volunteer for this? Its demeaning. They strip you naked of any dignity.
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Guest
# Guest 2012-02-06 08:39
I just tried that. Anyone can get it to see what happens to their emails. No privacy on the net! Yuk! Wonder how many of my so called friends are spying on me?
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Anono
# Anono 2012-02-06 14:06
Lose your friends!
You can’t get rid of WIRES though because they control your authority - they can do whatever they like and there is nothing you can do about it.
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John Paul IV
# John Paul IV 2012-02-04 20:12
What do you consider the worst case scenario resulting from this practice?
What is the best way to detect (and hopefully) block this practice?
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-04 20:39
Our IT people advise you to be vigilant. Right click on any suspect link, select "copy link address", and paste that into your browser’s address bar - it will show you what the link really is before you send the request. Real question is - Why is a marketing tool designed to track distribution being used in a member’s newsletter? Were the members told about this?
Worse case scenario depends on what information they are collecting and for what purpose. They really should disclose that.
I can assure you that we do not track our readers - our server records your IP address as is standard for every website, and that is all. The information we do collect is basic, remains private, and is erased regularly. We do not put tracking links on our site - you go directly to the link as displayed - not through some middle-man server that collects your details. We certainly do not, and have not ever, placed tracking code in any email.
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John Paul IV
# John Paul IV 2012-02-04 23:19
The real question is - Why is a tool used for [EDIT] apparently being used in a member’s newsletter?
To be fair, perhaps you should give the evidence on which this claim is based, or are we expected to believe the word of some anonymous IT minds?
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-05 00:44
First off - there is nothing illegal about this - Mailchimp is a legitimate business for marketing products and services. IT IS NOT PHISHING OR SPAMMING! We are not saying Mailchimp or WIRES NWB is doing anything illegal.

The questions are: Why is NWB using this service for its newsletters? What details are being collected by Mailchimp (is it just the IP)? Does NWB have access to these details? Why do they need it? What are they using it for? Was this disclosed to the members?

We have been contacted by some people who have read the newsletter and they had no idea that every link (even those to the WIRES database) were being routed through a third party - this is not made clear at any point in the process.

Below is the link to the newsletter: I wouldn’t advise that anyone go to this link but one person has questioned our IT advice and since you don’t trust me JP4...

WARNING WARNING WARNING
The following link will take you to the WIRES NWB Newsletter on the MailChimp website - you can test out the IT advice for yourself.

http://reformwires.com/open-up/24-eF6667jsl$3ddsyYGfsjj
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John Paul V
# John Paul V 2012-02-05 13:53
Although this practice is not illegal, is it acceptable? I think not - there is more to consider here than mere legalities, as your writing suggests.
Since you did not satisfactorily answer my question re worst case scenario, I disobeyed your dictum and tried to open the link to find out myself. After all, I am not a WIRES member, so what can they do?
Foiled again! Thanks, Big Brother.
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Spartacus
# Spartacus 2012-02-05 20:44
I can’t show you a copy of the email or give you the full string of code because either way it will be tracked. Both you and the email’s original recipient will be identified. Each of these emails is numbered and linked to an individual member - all their personal details are linked to it and easily (very easily) accessed - this includes their full name, address, email address, and membership number. You might not care about it but the member very well might.
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