Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Privacy: Your life exposed

Business: Your life exposed Great article by Dave Gussow of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, which discusses the data mining and selling industry and Choicepoint in particular. People are fed up with identity theft and with their personal financial and medical information being compromised by data brokers like Choicepoint, Lexis/Nexis, Bank of America, The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and dozens of other recently reported losses of data. The losses come about through multiple methods, from insiders selling information, as in a recent banking customer service outsourcing firm Mphasis in India to so-called legitimate customers of data brokers BUYING information from Choicepoint to computer theft as in the Nevada DMV case, to simple inept "loss" of backup tapes as in the Bank of America case.

The fact is that larger and larger losses are beoming common and exposing more and more people to problems as difficult and painful as identity theft or as simple as a loss of personal privacy. Accountability for companies handling that data and profiting from its use, sale or storage is mandatory. Whether accomplished through legislation or legal remedies - data aggregators must be held accountable for losses to the full extent of monetary suffering of identity theft victims at the hands of crooks - and not just "free credit report monitoring" as offered by Choicepoint. Even the simple loss of privacy to those who suffer lifestyle damage when their private information is exposed to the world by careless data storage and loss should see some compensation. This will force those handling all sensitive personal information to gaurd that data as though it could hurt them as badly as those whose information is compromised or lost.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates annual identity theft losses above $50-billion, with 10-million victims yearly. That is too much. It must be stopped.

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posted by RealitySEO at 11:03 AM


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