Friday, April 15, 2005

American? You Don't Own Your Personal Information

Identity Thieves' Secret Weapon

“But for a single innovative law in California, the nation's consumers might not even be hearing some of the more outrageous news about mass heists of supposedly secure computer information from reputedly trustworthy sources: LexisNexis gently announces about 32,000 suspected thefts of identity data, which soon balloon to 310,000. ChoicePoint, a data broker and credit reporting agency with access to 19 billion records, lets 145,000 consumers know their personal data may have been stolen.…”

Consumers, not data dealers, deserve controlling interest in their vital information.
…mainly because California has a law requiring that consumers be notified when their personal data are pilfered. There is no such federal law, even though identity theft produces $50 billion a year in personal and business losses. As California's consumers play the canary in the data mines, consumer and law enforcement organizations are putting pressure on loosely regulated data brokers to let the rest of us in on their failures. But this is hardly the way to safeguard the American consumer.

Recent Senate hearings show that no one really knows how deeply hackers and in-house thieves are tapping into our personal records. There was the purloining of Ford Motor Credit reports on 30,000 consumers so street thieves could empty bank accounts and run up purchases. Computer backup tapes were lost at the Bank of America with the Social Security numbers and other vital data of 1.2 million federal workers.
con·cept: American? You Don't Own Your Personal Information