Travel 101 

A Privacy Bill of Rights?

How about a Privacy Bill of Rights?

Cybersecurity. Cybercrime. Hacking. Millions of Americans have their data hacked. It seems to be a weekly thing. In September 2015, it was T-Mobile and 15 million customers. A few weeks ago, it was the US government and 21.5 million employees. In January 80 million Anthem health insurance customer records were hacked. The list is very long. Shamefully, our government doesn’t seem to care. Moreover, until someone hacks financial, phone, email and other records of every member of Congress, the government never will. Shame.

To top it off, so much of this is completely avoidable and the US government has had more than a decade to help protect us.

Still, there is shared blame. Consumers are at fault for various reasons. They don’t seem to care, they think “If I’m not doing anything wrong, then why do I care?” They forward emails with dozens to hundreds of email addresses on them. They give their real birthdays, etc., to Facebook, etc. They allow Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., to go through their email address books. They put their real information on customer loyalty cards. They sign up for catalogs, etc., etc., etc.

Yet perhaps the greatest blame lies with those who store this information. It is they who are truly malignant. Think about this:

1. Why do car companies have any right to your GPS data?
2. Why do social sites hide something instead of deleting it when you want it deleted?
3. Why do companies like Amazon store credit card numbers?
4. Why do companies like Charles Schwab limit passwords to eight characters?
5. Why doesn’t search engine data perish after one or two days?
6. Why do credit card companies keep five years of your transaction data?
7. Why do cell phone companies like T-Mobile keep records forever instead of deleting them after 60 days?
8. Why are companies allowed to collect social security numbers for job applicants? Guess what? It goes into many databases and each of those databases has endless backups. In other words, there are endless opportunities for cyber attackers to get that data.

Why aren’t those responsible for allowing such loss jailed? T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s response to his company being hacked was “I am incredibly angry.” Gee, thanks John. That fixes everything. But why do your shoddy business practices permit storing so much data were it is hackable? Shame on you.

Of course, we hear those collecting this data say, “well, it’s in the privacy policy that we collect the data…” or “we have ironclad security”, etc. Yes, and the Titanic was unsinkable, the battleships at Pearl Harbor were safe and the US government can’t be hacked.

Watch out for the future. Narayan Sengupta, 2015

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