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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Meaningless ID Theft Legislation

Same Tune…Another Hollow Chorus on Identity Theft

Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, certainly with good intentions similar to other congressional leaders, has proposed yet another privacy bill. The Privacy Rights and Oversight for Electronic and Commercial Transactions Act of 2006 joins a host of bills already numbering seventeen on the subjects of privacy and identity theft. There are several good provisions.

Starting with an opt-in clause so it isn’t necessary to opt-out of anything you do not want. Keeping cell phone numbers private. Notification of victim in any data breach. And many of the already proposed sections such as free credit reports and the insuring of medical privacy standards. The bad guy is the bill’s stipulation exempting small companies. In my experience as a list broker in junk mail, the small-fry firms were the ones with the least security, but still warehousing the same private information.

Possible Drawbacks in Current Proposed Federal Legislation

This same article by Dave Eberhart on NewsMax, goes on to document some possible drawbacks if the federal legislation now being advanced is passed. Most important, any new federal law currently being proposed would pre-empt much stronger state legislation. The future roll of state attorneys general in policing privacy. Which agency in the federal bureaucracy should enforce the new law?

And the biggest problem—which, by the way, was not covered by Eberhart or any other of the media—with present federal bills introduced or state laws in effect. The fact that no one seems to think the consumer, the one whose sensitive data we are talking about, has the brains to manage this most important part of the protection to their privacy.

Answer to the Identity Crisis and the Big Brother Threat

Pass federal legislation giving consumers control over their names and personal data, and while we’re at it, pay them any time it is used. I did an earlier article on this you can see here. One of my points was: "It’s the Individual, Stupid." It emphasizes a solution so simple that government and business don’t see the possibilities. Or…they refuse to consider it because they lose control over this valuable asset.

Mass Public Apathy

An apathetic public—and this probably includes some readers of this blog—is just beginning to realize the calamity of identity theft. Combine that with twin Big Brothers Bush and Cheney and you have ample reason for grave concern. I am not sure what it will take to turn this accumulated detachment around, but I do know from experience, the more leeway you give the junk mail list industry, the greedier they will get. This can only result in more loss of sensitive data, and a bigger Big Brother on your doorstep.

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