If you live in the States, have a smartphone, and agree that unsolicited mail is a pest then this may be for you.
A company called Readabl has come up with an app that may help reduce junk mail. The concept behind PaperKarma is simple enough: after downloading the app and submitting your personal details (name, address, e-mail address, and phone number) you can start taking photos of junk mail you want to stop. Uploaded images are run against a database, and if the sender can be identified the app will send the offender an e-mail asking to take your details off its mailing list.
There are some obvious practical issues (is the database kept up to date, do senders respect the requests, etc.) but it's a nice idea, and something that's bound to be introduced in the UK.
Or is it?
Personally, I'm not overly impressed. What's wrong with spending a couple of minutes reading up on how to stop junk mail yourself? Call me old-fashioned, but I find it somewhat ironic that people downloading the app in an attempt to reduce junk mail are at the same time handing over their personal details to a company that doesn't even have a proper website. Unsolicited mail is usually the result of exposing your personal details to potential junk mailers. Wouldn't it better to encourage people to be a bit more vigilant with their personal data?
Whether or not Readabl / PaperKarma can be trusted with your personal details I don't know. What seems clear, though, it that Readabl / PaperKarma is hoping to make money. The app's page on the iTunes site states that it will be free for a limited period only, and the page with privacy information on the PaperKarma website talks about a
paper to digital conversion program. This concept has already been introduced in the UK by the Green Preference Service - a company presenting itself as being 'anti-junk mail' but primarily interested in selling people's personal details.
What doesn't convince me either is that the presentation of the PaperKarma product is far from professional. The two paragraphs of text on the PaperKarma home page, for instance, are riddled with errors:
PaperKarma allows you to take photos of the junk mail you wish to stop [Do I really need PaperKarma for that?]. Snap a photo, and you're done [No you're not].
We automatically contact the Mailer [proper noun?] and remove you from their [its!] distribution list [No you're not - you put in a request for someone to be removed]. PaperKarma can stop most junk mail that is addressed directly [as opposed to indirectly?] to you.
Or, take this promotional image from the above-mentioned iTunes page: