Wednesday, May 25, 2005

So What's It Gonna Take?

There's been alot of stories in the news about identity theft or near misses lately.

A few months ago, there was the story of Choice Point, a data collection agency that was hacked and many people's account numbers and social security numbers were compromised, including Bank of America customers mostly in Southern California. Choice Point has 'data' on nearly 4 BILLION people, nearly all the people on the planet. So the big question is, why do companies NEED to have all this information on you?

Another big company (don't remember which one) had data tapes stolen from a stolen Iron Mountain truck. Iron Mountain is one of the country's largest off-site storage companies that companies use for disaster recovery. You mean to tell me Iron Mountain didn't know the name of the driver of the truck and his anticipated route? Iron Mountain says its not their responsibility, since it is the responsibility of the data owner to encrypt their data. The other company of course, assumes that Iron Mountain will do its utmost to protect customer data, including arming their trucks if need be.

Now there was another incident the other day where Bank of America customer data was again compromised due to a local crime scam in New Jersey. I haven't heard if it was bank customers or credit card customers who might be at risk.

Isn't great to know that nearly all of us are vulnerable to identity theft thanks to all the mega mergers that went on in the past few years? You open an account with Company A which merges with Company B which is taken over by Company C which is bought out in a hostile corporate takeover by Company D. Now you are a customer of Company D that you never wanted to be in the first place. So now Mega Bank has been compromised.

And today there was the story of Quick Check. Quick Check is one of those online 'virtual' check writing services where 'no signature is required'. All somebody has to do is get a hold of your account number and off they go shopping in cyberspace.

And then there is WiFi, something I'll never use. Most home users like students and housewives at Starbucks, know little about firewalls and security and have little knowledge about setting security on their connections. All a thief has to do is ride around the neighborhood and 'pick up' your connection and presto, everything on your hard drive becomes public knowledge, without the user even being aware of it.

Its time for Congress, which likes to portray itself as 'tough on terror' to step up and start dealing with both the privacy issues involved as well as limiting what information data collectors can and cannot collect. I am against 'opt out' provisions. I support 'opt in'. Businesses should assume that I don't want to be involved with their data collection schemes, rather than letting them gather whatever they want from wherever they want and leaving the consumer to opt out. People like to assume that their doors are locked, but businesses like to think everything is an open book.

If your local criminal is doing these things, from kids on computers with laser printers printing conterfeit money (poker machines here in Vegas no longer accept $10 bills, because of one very successful scam) and your local crime family can do it (like B of A in New Jersey), will it take an Al Queda operation that could destroy the US economy before our leaders take this issue as seriously as the Terri Schiavo case or fillibustering?

"They're coming to get you, Barbara"

- Night of the Living Dead


At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Jaylectricity said...

This is what it will take. For the biggest of corporations to get big enough to persuade Congress to allow for monopolies. They have pseudo-monolopies as it is, with corporations owning companies that deal with all forms of business. Food companies paired with sports stadiums, sports teams paired with amusement parks, and amusement parks paired with breweries all show how one corporation can have their hands on large parts of your life. Now all they need to do is monopolize it all together and they will have total control. Now it may seem like I'm getting off my point. But when people's lives become dictated by these corporations, the corporation will push their limits to increase profits. History has shown that when you shackle the human, the fire of liberty burns within them, and they WILL revolt. Just like a teenager who gets tired of his parents controlling his own life.

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Jaylectricity said...

No law in Congress will ever stop the thieves. It's a game of cops and robbers. Every known crime to man continues to exist despite legislation. As long as one entity is allowed to capitalize on the work of another, their will always be a criminal waiting to capitalize on you.


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