I'm currently in the process (early process) of trying to get a product into the market. I am a college student with a heavy, background in computer hardware and software. As I began my research, I started to study market disruption and successful crowdfunding campaigns, and the cornerstone of almost every one of those is a large social media/ media presence, filled with loyal followers and hungry reporters. I came up with a good company name tonight, and while looking for a site to check if the name was trademarked, I noticed that in almost all of them, you had to enter your email. I have a special spam email just for the purpose of signing up for garbage, but if I was signing up for something important, such as a product I use everyday, I would most certainly use my actual email, which I check every day.
My question is, what stops valid companies from collecting and selling their customer base's personal information, such as emails, to other non-competitive companies, or even just spammers? Is that legal? Just how profitable is this? If you run a successful company, and you have a lot of valid customer info, what can you do with it. Obviously for most companies, keeping an image of honesty and trustworthiness is very important, but how will customers know if their information is being sold by you?
Selling addresses and names sounds almost certainly illegal, but what about non-identifying information like emails or even telephone numbers? Are you allowed to do this?