March 10, 2005

First They Came For My Information

First they came for my information
and I did not speak out
because I was not one of those people who is paranoid about my information getting out.

With apologies to Pastor Martin Niemöller.

In yet another apparent theft of U.S. consumers’ personal data, LexisNexis, a major compiler of legal and consumer information, has said that about 30,000 of its records - including names, addresses and Social Security numbers of individuals - may have fallen into the hands of thieves.

[…] The concern in such cases is that criminals can use the information to open credit-card accounts in other people’s names or engage in various other forms of so-called identity theft. (International Herald Tribune and more stories here)

Maggie woke me from my morning torpor (ok, mentally at least) with this story. Even if you think corporations are not going to use your data in ways that you disapprove, or that impact your life adversely, how about if they’re just sloppy with hanging on to your data?

This is the early 21st century version of the bank robbery. Except, in a bank robbery you just lose the money you had in that bank. If your information is stolen and your identity is used, it’s going to continue to haunt you.

Links:

  • The adcritic link above is to an ACLU commercial about a possible future of corporate database sharing. Found on Mike’s link dump. It’s a dystopic and (possibly) exaggerated view, but the point is something that information sciences people have known for a long time. The combination of databases can bring about unforseen possibilities. For those not in control of the data this means unintended and possibly unwanted consequences.
  • What to do if your identity is stolen. via the FTC.
  • Has Your Identity Been Stolen? (Slate)
Posted by James at March 10, 2005 8:22 AM
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