Wednesday, March 16, 2005

LexisNexis (from 3/11/05)

So a few days ago LexisNexis's database was hacked into and a bunch--and by a bunch I mean tens of thousands--of people's personal information, including social security numbers, was stolen. Prior to this ChoicePoint was duped into giving out the personal information of 145,000 people to a fraud ring posing as 50 different legitimate businesses. For those of you who don't know, LexisNexis and ChoicePoint are two of a number of companies that profit from information sharing. The personal information that these companies have they sell to other companies. Needless to say, it's bad that a lot of people had information relating to their identities stolen and many of them will likely be victims of identity theft. What I don't get is why these companies have that information in the first place. Surely, your social security number is not something that you would allow to be bought and sold willy-nilly given the option. It just seems pretty obvious that it violates a person's right to privacy if their personal information becomes a commodity on the free market. The government, according to those articles linked above, is slow on the uptake. There are apparently major economic benefits to information sharing, which is something we like. Of course, for an administration with the country's safety as its highest priority, this does not particularly reflect well on its performance. If nearly 200,000 people can have their personal information stolen, which besides social security numbers includes bank and credit card records, how secure are we supposed to feel? With all the credit and bank info that's been stolen, "the terrorists" could buy a hefty collection of whatever it is they need to have in order to terrorize people. Great job Congress and Homeland Security. Kudos to you.

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