Many Internet users who sign up for Microsoft's free e-mail service, Hotmail, are unwittingly placing their vital statistics in a White Pages database which makes the information available to other services on the Internet.
When signing up for a Hotmail e-mail account, users have the option of unchecking a box and opting out of the White Pages service. Leave the box checked, which is the way Hotmail displays the registration screen, and the user's name, location, and e-mail address become part of "one or more Internet e-mail directories," according to a report in USA Today.
"Clearly when you're signing up for a new Hotmail account, you have the opportunity to uncheck that," said Sarah Lefko, product manager for MSN, Microsoft's Internet service.
Once your personal information becomes the property of another Internet company, one with which you have no agreement, the company can make your information available to whomever it wishes. This is one way in which e-mail boxes begin to get loaded with spam mail.
The practice of offering to provide others with your e-mail address and other information is not unusual, and Internet users should be reminded that whenever they sign up for Internet services where they must provide their name, e-mail address, and other personal information, they should read all the options and acceptance agreement information that accompanies the service.
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