Friday, September 30, 2011

Privacy lost…never regained

It was several years ago in 1999 when Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, said: “You have zero privacyanyway.  Get over it.”  His comments were picked up by the media worldwide and drew gasps from privacy advocates in the U.S.  I was one of them, concentrating in those days on our loss of control over our names and personal data.  I had been a junk mail data broker. 

Appalled, I wrote several posts on my blog, The Dunning Letter, about how wrong he was and how individuals must work to protect their private information.  You can read some of them here. 

In the meantime, I haven’t given up my belief that people should be able to maintain their privacy.  What I have lost is my belief that we will ever be able to attain the necessary level of privacy needed to keep us safe.  And, much of the problem can be attributed to the apathy of the American public toward privacy.  They just don’t care so why should lawmakers who could pass federal legislation protecting these individuals.

Two of the largest warehouses of personal data are mortgage companies and medical offices.  Everything an ID thief needs to take everything you have is in those files, many of which have minimum security.  I was in a doctor’s office recently and my Social Security number appeared on three pages they asked me to check for accuracy.  To ask them to remove it is useless since it can still be found in other records in the same office and others.

So McNealy was right and Americans have once again proved the saying that, “Oh that’s a terrible thing that happened but it could never happen to me.”

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