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Lexis-Nexis saga goes Greek

Where there's controversy, there's a marketing opportunity: A database publisher called Aristotle steps forward today to remind people that it can help them remove their names from a controversial Lexis-Nexis service.

Where there's controversy, there's a marketing opportunity.

That seems to be the motto of many Web sites. Today's example is a database publisher called Aristotle.Com. The company stepped forward today to remind people that it can help them remove their names from a controversial Lexis-Nexis database.

The P-TRAK service is marketed to lawyers and law enforcement officials to help them track down individuals involved in litigation by providing a database of names, addresses, and other personal information, including Social Security numbers.

After users protested that Lexis-Nexis was making personal information available that could be too easily misused, the company modified the service three months ago so that subscribers could no longer find Social Security numbers by searching on a person's name. But P-TRAK subscribers can still look up Social Security numbers and find out who they belong to, as well as find maiden names, aliases, and previous addresses. After a form of email chain letter about the P-TRAK service made the rounds of Net users this week, Lexis-Nexis was bombarded by requests from consumers to remove their names from the database.

That's where Aristotle comes in.

Since consumers are complaining that they can't get through to Lexis-Nexis fast enough to request that they be removed from the database, Aristotle put out a release reminding them that the company will do it for them.

The offer is a part of a free email pilot program run by Aristotle. In addition to providing email accounts, the service offers to remove names off mass mailing and telemarketing lists generated by members of the Direct Marketing Association. The Direct Marketing Association accounts for an estimated 90 percent of the all marketing firms, an Aristotle spokeswoman said today.

So, while Lexis-Nexis struggles to close the book on the P-TRAK controversy, it opens a door for Aristotle to plug its free email service, which is sponsored by government bodies, such as the state of California.

Aristotle is working in partnership with the California Secretary of State's office on a pilot to allow state voters to receive the November ballot by email. The company expects to make money by making the arrangement permanent.