Tag: personal data

Google CEO channels Houston police chief

Google CEO Eric Schmidt on privacy:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

The if you’re not doing anything wrong meme rears it’s ugly head once again, only this time it’s the CEO of a company who’s business relies on the accumulation of data (albeit not all of it is personal). Last time I heard the line it was coming out of a Houston police chief’s mouth, while trying to justify the installation of surveillance cameras in people’s bedrooms.

Taking into consideration the rumors of Mr. Schmidt’s open marriage, why does this all seem so ironic?

UPDATE: Bruce Scheier reacts.

Don’t call customer service – your data’s at risk

I know a lot of people that are scared of calling customer service, particularly if they are a Dell owner and have a computer problem. Everyone knows what I am talking about.

Still with me? Well next time you pick up the phone to make that trans-Pacific Ocean/trans-Indian Ocean call to get that fix, you have even more to worry about – your data might be getting sold out from under you.

Late news on LexisNexis arrests begs question

Last week, five men were arrested for the theft of LexisNexis data, which is not necessarily relevant as it happened last week (and that is a millenium in internet time). The fine young gentlemen were using the data to look up personal information, including social security numbers, on celebrities. I suspect most readers here are not celebrities, so they have little to worry about – privacy by obscurity.

It makes me wonder, however, how many organizations actually hold personal data. The US government, state, country and city governments (where ever you have lived), Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Choicepoint, LexisNexis….just how many places does your data reside? And why does it always smell so vulnerable in their hands versus our own?

We are headed in a direction where everyone has a fraud notice, a privacy block, and a free credit report coming every six months, just to protect against personal fraud. What affect this will have on the global economy, hungrier that ever for access to cheap credit, is anyone’s guess.

Privacy concerns depend on who has the data

Bruce Schneier notes that a recent Unisys study suggests people are willing to trade privacy for convenience, assuming they feel comfortable with the way the data is being handled (i.e. it is locked up tightly).

Yesterday, I attended a briefing entitled “Current Corporate Privacy Best Practices — The Good, the Bad, and Well…! which was put together by the local Privacy Foundation. In that meeting, a well spoken, obviously concerned Colorado state government employee chimed in, stating that her department was consistently riddled with questions from consumers as to why said department “had the data in the first place.”

So which is it? Do individuals really care if organizations have their personal information, being instead concerned only with how it is protected? Or do they like their local retailer handling it as long as they get good discounts as a result, while disparaging private data use in the public sector, knowing full and well that government isn’t going to give them any kind of break?

Get personal, just not TOO personal

All the fear mongering going related to ID theft and internet is taking its toll, as consumers grow more and more wary of having their data in someone else’s hands. More than 60% of online users polled expressed privacy fears. Unfortunately, those same folks remained interested in personalized online experiences. A sure headache for vendors.

Politicians get encryption?

We have seen a lot of data falling into the wrong hands as of late, and one of the big issues as I see it is that much of the data is being carted around unencrypted.

Now some politicians have gotten the same clue, and a new ID theft bill may try to set stricter standards for data brokers’ encryption processes. As it seems there are no standards at all right now, I guess anything is an improvement on stuffing data in a brown paper sack.

Of course, data brokers are going to scream bloody murder, stating it is difficult enough to recover data from backup tapes without encryption. I say, build a better backup system.