Another issue that came up during the Chapter's pendancy related to the contact information the chapter had for the people interested in our group.
ESI claimed at a certain point that this information was "proprietary" and that they owned it; ESI claimed the right to sell, exchange or share this information with third parties (like spammers) whenever it saw fit. They wanted the local chapter officers to sign a contract to that effect. Needless to say, no one at ES Nashville ever signed this contract.
This "proprietary" b.s. was one of the things that seriously disillusioned me with EarthSave. First, the contact information and e-mail addresses collected by the local chapter were collected at our initiative in order to contact and communicate with people. This was in no way suggested by ESI and had nothing to do with ESI. And yet, years later, they come up with this "contract," which is supposed to apply retroactively to all the information we have collected. Second, when we were collecting this information, we told people that it was for the purpose of enabling us to contact them. Period. A few people were reluctant to provide their e-mail addresses for fear that we would sell them to spammers. I thought that they were being paranoid, and assured them that we
would never do something sleazy like this. Little did I know.
As far as I am concerned, the contact information provided by the people who contacted us is the "property" of the people who contacted us. All we (ES Nashville) have is permission (a "license" in property terms) to use the information to contact them. Since they never "conveyed" their property to us, we cannot "convey" it to ESI. If ESI wants the right to use this information as it sees fit, it should get this right directly from the original "owners" of this information. And yes, I would/would have been willing to transmit such a request on behalf of ESI to our contactees. But ESI never made such a request, trying to achieve its goals through this "back door" side contract with the officers of the local chapters.
I think if it were generally known that it is the de facto policy of ESI not
on their website, nor anywhere else AFAIK
. If they really want to be free to sell the information to third parties, why don't they explicitly and publicly state this on their website
? It seems to me that they don't do this because they want to "have it both ways" and benefit from what is in effect a deception.
It is for this reason and others that I will not have any further involvement with EarthSave. I still believe in Robbins' message, but I don't believe in the practices that ESI uses to run the organization. It is unclear to what extent Robbins knows of or approves of ESI's administrative tactics. To the extent that he does know and does approve, then he has personal flaws and "feet of clay" in my book.
I think that if Nashville is going to have a vegetarian or pro-vegetarian organization that I am going to participate in, then it will have to be something independent and perhaps affiliated with the North American Vegetarian Society.